Freshfields and Linklaters to review associate workload

Linklaters to review associate workload” />Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer and Linklaters have overhauled their systems for allocating work to corporate associates in response to the boom in M&A.

Freshfields London head of corporate Tim Jones revealed that for the past week the corporate group has been piloting a system of involving select senior associates in the process of assigning work to their peers.

The allocation of work has previously been overseen solely by partners. However, Jones explained that increasing pressure on partners’ time had prompted the group to consider consulting associates in order to ensure an even spread of work.

Linklaters is implementing a similar approach. The corporate group is introducing ‘work allocation partners’ who are responsible for ensuring matters are distributed fairly between associates in terms of volume and types of transactions.

Linklaters global head of corporate David Barnes said the group had been rolling out the system during the past couple of months, as a result of the increasing workload within the corporate practice.

The change in approach follows a dramatic upturn in corporate activity, which has seen many of the City’s firms report robust half-year financial results.

According to Thomson Financial, the number of deals involving any UK element has already surpassed last year’s figures. Just over 3,200 deals totalling $383.98bn (£220.72bn) had already been announced by 31 October this year, compared with 4,074 deals totalling $379.2bn (£217.97bn) during the whole of 2004.

Linklaters’ new system replaces a less coordinated approach, in which associates were required to complete a form detailing their current workload at the end of each week. Slaughter and May also uses feedback forms, despite concerns that this and other less coordinated approaches can lead to preferential treatment of certain associates.

A corporate partner at Slaughters told The Lawyer: “We think it’s very important that associates get to work with different partners. It’s important for someone’s career development to learn from the different styles used by partners.”