RPC to scrap NQ flat rate salary for performance-based pay

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  • "Merit" is an arbitrary and opaque way of setting salary. It is not an objective measure of ability and beyond hours billed it is hard to see how they will determine pay. In any event, you can be sure that the RPC NQ+ salary bill, when this policy is implemented, will not be any higher than it currently is and will in all likelihood be reduced. Setting NQ Levels of pay based on "merit", whether RPC admit it openly or not, allows for a flexible means of reducing the salary burden when the firm is less busy.

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  • As an in house lawyer, I am already concerned at the hourly rates model used by most of our legal providers. I suspect that the main yardstick by which to measure the "merit" of an NQ will be billable time, in which case, there will be yet another temptation for an NQ to pad out a bill even more. I agree with the comments made above expressing a view that PRC will see its wage bill decrease overall, but I do envisage that certain NQs will do their best to ensure that itsn't the case, perhaps by any means available. I think it is a bad idea, but let's see how this one pans out.

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  • It is very difficult to assess the contribution of trainee solicitors, and arguably junior solicitors up to about 2PQE. Trainee's billable hours particularly are often subject to right-off's. So it would presumeably come down to how profitable the practice area they are qualifying into is, which would disproportionally affect NQ's qualifying into the less lucrative practice areas. It is perhaps more sensible to have set salaries up to around the 2-3 PQE mark, then move to a merit-based system. This incentivises junior lawyers to stay with their training firm longer-term, and thus the firm benefiting from their own talent (and therefore a good return on the investment), rather than relying on lateral hires.

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  • kind of distracts from the half-year figures though...

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  • A few law firms have done this before. The firm I trained at did this and most people left pretty soon after realising they were getting paid less for doing the same work/hours just because their reviewer was more lenient/had their favourites.

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  • As a client of RPC I applaud the move to performance based pay for juniors, great way to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

    However when will RPC move to performance based fees which is much longer overdue? We don't mind paying for value added, in certain areas we don't get this but are still told we have to pay full rates regardless. This needs to change.

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  • There are some fascinating comments on here, nearly all defensive and negative. What's not to like about merit? All law firm clients reward their staff on merit but for law/law firms it's somehow different? I don't think so. For 'civil service pay grade' read 'law firm lockstep'. Harsh but fair ...

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  • Surely there are only two markets here that matter - client and recruitment. It can't be in client interests for there to be fixed, uniform salaries as that encourages fixed, uniform prices and inefficiency. And if you ask any City quality, high performance lawyer, regardless of pqe, how they want to be judged and it will be on merit. If law firms say otherwise it's either because of self-interest or inability to do the hard things necessary to change.

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  • John is right on the money. I am not even sure why anyone is wasting their time debating the merits of performance based pay vs lockstep. This is such a clear move by RPC to mask a decrease in salaries.

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  • Recruiter: if you bothered to read the comments properly, you would have realised that the criticism is not of the principle of performance-based pay, it's of the introduction of that performance-based pay very close to the beginning of your career, when the firm has little to go on.

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