Change is hard for SJ Berwin

Standard Chartered is under the eye of New York authorities, Syria is in turmoil, and British athletes are clocking up Olympic medal after Olympic medal, but we all know what the most exciting news of the day is: SJ Berwin has put off changes to its partner remuneration system that would have encouraged more cross-selling between practices.

Partner pay is always a sore point, especially at a firm like SJ Berwin, where partners have to be reminded to work as a team. The latest attempt at a shift, spearheaded by managing partner Rob Day, has been the subject of discussions since at least early this year, but even now the jaw-jaw has had about as much effect as the pack trying to chase Usain Bolt. The plans have been duly shelved pending further debate.

This is not a case of cold feet or procrastination: instead the firm has built work referral into the annual partner assessment process from this year, even if the checks and balances of profit share allocation won’t yet take cross-selling into account.

Indeed, the firm is still hopeful that it could wrap up a vote on partner pay in time to introduce the new regime in 2013.

It’s slow going, but Day’s aims to modernise SJ Berwin from a 1980s start-up into a 21st-century international firm are gradually stepping up a level.

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