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Having suffered a mass exodus of disputes associates a year earlier - with those leaving claiming that career progression at the firm was unclear - Herbert Smith created the role of counsel.
To date, a total of 18 people have taken this route as an alternative to partnership, which offers profit and performance-related bonuses as well as extra holiday. Yet the firm still suffered from a 10 per cent associate turnover over the past year.
A Herbert Smith spokesperson explains that career progression is integral to the way the firm works: "We actively encourage individuals to think about their career development. At two and four years' post qualification experience [PQE] the firm offers individuals the chance to attend a development centre, which helps to prepare them for the next stage of their careers, and offers support and advice on any development needs that arise."
At four years' PQE, associates are promoted to the senior associate position, which brings the chance of a higher annual bonus.
In terms of partnership promotions, in 2006-07 Herbert Smith made up 10 new partners, with the corporate practice receiving the largest share.