Bircham Dyson Bell has discarded the traditional use of PQE as the key component in grading solicitors. The firm has replaced it with a performance-based structure called the Career Development Framework (CDF). The CDF establishes four levels of seniority based on the achievement of specified criteria, comprising solicitor, associate, senior associate and partner. Since the implementation of the new structure Bircham has promoted nine lawyers to senior associate level and 23 to associate. HR director Richard Walden said the PQE system was “outdated and failed to recognise the quality of work delivered”.