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Thomson Snell & Passmore named the oldest law firm in the world

This is ‘a testament to our resilience as a law firm,’ says Simon Slater

11 November 2015

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Southeast UK law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore has been named the oldest law firm in operation by Guinness World Records. The recognition will be recorded in the 2017 edition.

Established in 1570, the firm will celebrate its 450th anniversary in 2020.

“It is tremendous to be named an official Guinness World Record holder,” said Simon Slater, who in May 2014 became the firm's first CEO.

“This is an acknowledgement of the firm’s unique longevity and a testament to our resilience as a law firm.”

Commented senior partner James Partridge: “We are at an exciting place in our history, and as the firm looks ahead – with its extensive experience and heritage – we will continue to grow by prioritising the needs of our clients and adapting our approach to the changing legal landscape.”

This adaption will not, however, include changing the firm’s reward and remuneration structures.

In a recent review, the equity partners decided that all staff should have a merit-based element to their earnings, but that they would stick with a virtually pure lockstep for themselves.

"We found there was no appetite at all amongst the equity partners for a merit element," Slater told Managing Partner.

"And I think that the reason for that is that they would say that the current system isn't broken - it's not preventing us from doing anything."

Adrian Crawford, an employment and partnership law partner at Kingsley Napley, has suggested that merit-based pay can encourage partners to focus more on their profits than the firm’s best interests.

“When people start looking at the metrics and the measurement, rather than the underlying goal, you have a problem of them gaming the system,” he told Managing Partner.

“That is a natural tendency for any kind of merit-based pay, unless it has a strong discretionary element.”




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