Norwich law firm Fosters is going back to a traditional partnership structure this week, four years after having scrapped the concept of partners in a radical restructuring that won plaudits.
“Increasingly the firm realised it was missing something,” said managing partner Andrew Saul, who in 1993 oversaw the introduction of a four-strong management board to shape long-term strategy and a monthly committee of all the department heads.
But Fosters found that some lawyers wanted to be on the committee for the wrong reason – to advance their career – while it was losing the wisdom of some senior lawyers who were not managers.
“Our new structure enabled us to achieve everything that we planned for and more,” Saul explained. “But, inadvertently, the management posts came to be seen as the only route for an ambitious lawyer, and we lost out on the invaluable input of our most senior lawyers.”
Saul said that although the management structure was being retained more or less intact, there would now be 10 partners who would have a say in long-term decision making, lessening the role of the four-strong board.