A&O to shake up partner reviews

Allen & Overy (A&O) has radically revamped its partner appraisal system in a bid to ensure reviews are conducted consistently across all practice groups and regions.

The new system, which is being utilised for the first time this month, is set out in a document seen by The Lawyer entitled ‘Framework for Measuring Partner Performance’. It comprises five key elements: clients, practice and financial performance, knowledge, people and partnership.

Commenting on the move, A&O managing partner David Morley said: “[Partner] reviews were done on an ad hoc basis and weren’t carried out at the same time. We now have a clear framework against which performance can be measured, so it’s done to a minimum common standard across the world.”

The magic circle firm has also moved away from relying on individual billing information as a measure of partner performance to overall group profitability.

“Historically, there was quite a lot of emphasis on individual partner billings, as it’s easy to measure and tangible. But there are lots of things it doesn’t tell you – it’s like flying an aeroplane and just looking at one dial,” explained Morley.

However, A&O partners have conflicting views as to what role individual partner billings should play in the partner review process. Some believe that individual billing information is essential, while others think it is unnecessarily divisive.

In direct response to the lack of consensus on the use of individual billings, the firm will set up a group to review the issue, which will report to the partners. The group will be formed either later this month or in October.