A&O to ditch compulsory retirement at 60

Allen & Overy is set to abolish rules that force partners to retire at 60.

A&O had been reviewing its rules surrounding compulsory retirement for a number of years. The firm drew up alternative proposals scrapping a mandatory retirement age, which were passed at a partner vote.

A&O is now drafting a policy on retirement that the firm will incorporate into its partnership deed.

Wim Dejonghe, A&O managing partner, said: “There’s a great variety of ways in which the careers of our partners are played out. Some wish to carry on contributing to the firm well past the conventional retirement age while others may seek new career paths whether in the law or elsewhere. An inflexible mandatory retirement age which forces partners to leave the firm at a particular point in time no longer made any sense. A more flexible approach also makes commercial sense from the firm’s point of view and means we retain the huge institutional knowledge and contacts of highly experienced partners.”

The decision to scrap partner retirement ages at A&O comes amid changes to laws. In October 2011, the Government ditched the default retirement age, which allowed employers to force out staff at 65. Though, since partners are not classed as staff, more pertinent will be the expected Supreme Court decision in the case of Clarkson Wright & Jakes partner Leslie Seldon, who is fighting his former firm over its decision to retire him at 65 (7 March 2011).

At least three other firms, Ashurst, Hogan Lovells and Linkaters, have already ditched mandatory retirement ages for partners.