Lovells partners in line for post-merger windfall

Top-performing ­partners at Lovells are ­anticipating the prospect of pocketing a massive payout within a year of the firm’s merger with Hogan & ­Hartson as the partnership prepares to discuss the minutiae of the deal at its annual conference this week.

Partners at both firms were issued with merger papers earlier this month and are being asked to okay plans based on the fact that Hogan Lovells’ corporate governance structure will be modelled broadly on Lovells’, while its pay structure will mirror Hogan’s.

As such Lovells partners will for the first time be ­eligible for a performance-linked bonus.

Under Hogan’s merit-based equity structure 85 per cent of a partner’s remuneration is linked to points that accumulate from the point of making equity partner, while the remainder comes from a bonus pool set aside to reward exceptional performance. The points-linked element, based on areas including billings, client development, pro bono and firm-mindedness, is reviewed biennially, while the bonus is calculated at the end of each financial year.

When the merger goes ahead on 1 May 2010 Lovells partners’ lockstep points will be translated into merit-based points, taking account of lockstep progression. To ensure partners are placed at the right level it will take two years to be fully integrated onto the system, although bonuses will be paid at the end of 2010-11.

The new firm will follow Lovells’ model of having an international executive that handles business development and a partnership council that deals with issues such as partner remuneration and lateral hires.

Lovells managing partner David Harris and Hogan chairman Warren Gorrell will be joint CEOs of the new firm until 2014, when the dual role will be reviewed.

Lovells senior partner John Young will serve as joint chairman of the new firm alongside a Hogan ­partner to be chosen by the US firm ahead of the merger.

In the US Lovells partners will move onto Hogan’s LLP, which will be rebranded, while in Europe the opposite will happen. Discussions are ongoing about how to proceed in Asia.
Voting on the merger will open following Lovells’ ­partnership conference, with the result expected in early December.

Lovells declined to comment on the details of the merger, but said in a statement: “We’ve previously said that we feel there’s a strong business rationale for merger, but we’re committed to having discussions about the future of our firm among our partners.”