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Herbert Smith is suffering an exodus of associates as lawyers vote with their feet over low partnership prospects and rock-bottom morale in the dispute resolution department.
In the past year, 25 associates have resigned from the London contentious teams. Former associates said there was concern in the department about the lack of clarity in career progression and that morale was low. One said: "My confidence was getting sapped on a daily basis."
To tackle the problem, litigation head Sonya Leydecker has introduced eight 'people partners' to act as mentors. Each associate is assigned to one partner, who they can take issues and problems to.
The losses come from the two general commercial litigation teams and the insurance and arbitration groups.
Leydecker said new career development programmes were being introduced and denied that partnership prospects were low for current associates.
"The aim is to grow the size of the litigation practice and we always prefer to grow the practice internally," Leydecker said. "It's inevitable that not everyone can become a partner in a City firm."