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Seventeen Ashurst partners were moved down the firm’s lockstep in the last financial year, while the number of partners at the top of equity almost trebled.
An internal document listing partners’ equity points for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 financial years seen by The Lawyer shows that 19 partners were moved to the 65-point plateau for 2010-11.
Corporate partner Stephen Lloyd, appointed head of the global practice last summer, was the only partner to be accelerated from 50 points to 65, skipping the 57-point rung. The value of one equity point in 2010-11 was £15,600.
Senior partner Charlie Geffen confirmed that this was not the first time a partner had skipped a rung of the lockstep, and that accelerations are used to reward outstanding performance.
The partners that moved down the ladder cover eight practice groups and three offices. Real estate was worst hit, with six partners affected. Among the others, three partners in the energy, transport and infrastructure group, two in tax and two in finance were also moved down.
Two of the partners have since left the firm, while four have held or now hold departmental or office management positions.
Ashurst revamped its remuneration system four years ago, replacing its pure lockstep with a modified system allowing partners to be moved up or down.
Geffen said: “It’s well-known that we operate a managed lockstep and of course this has been more actively managed over the past two years in light of market conditions.”