Move On Up: TLT
30 April 2012 | By Joanne Harris
A robust HR strategy ensures TLT associates have a boost up the career ladder - even the managing partner started as a trainee at the firm
South-West firm TLT has a good track record when it comes to nurturing its associates: 14 of its current partners trained at the firm or one of its legacy practices, including managing partner David Pester.
The statistic is evidence of TLT’s efforts to retain staff, which have paid off with support from a recently introduced HR strategy designed to recognise potential in associates and help them along the path to management.
The programme was introduced in 2010 and it is the past two years that have seen the bulk of TLT’s recent partner promotions. A total of five lawyers will be made up tomorrow (1 May), while four were promoted at the end of the 2010-11 financial year. The previous two years saw just three promotions in total.
TLT’s Bristol headquarters have benefited most from the firm’s organic growth strategy. Only three of the 12 promotions made since 2007-08 were in London, with the remaining nine all in Bristol.
The promotions came in a range of practice areas. Three banking and finance litigators were made up in 2010-11, all in Bristol, while Gary Roscoe, who works in TLT’s Bristol transactional finance team, was promoted this year.
Over the past few years TLT has also had an extensive lateral hiring programme at both associate and partner level, boosting its ranks in Bristol and London. Once again, banking and finance litigation has been a key area, represented in five out of 13 partner-level lateral hires plus two associate hires. Both of those associates, Neil Franklin and Richard Hayllar, were made up in the 2010-11 round.
TLT has picked up partners from a range of firms both in London and Bristol. A number have been recruited from national and international firms, including real estate partners David Sanson – who joined from DLA Piper in March this year - and Stephen Elliott, who was recruited from Hogan Lovells in January 2011.
The firm also hired two partners from Halliwells’ London office and one, corporate partner Alistair Bird, from Mayer Brown in 2010-11.
In June 2007 TLT perhaps made its biggest expansion move, swallowing up London shipping boutique Constant & Constant. The merger added a Piraeus office and increased TLT’s partnership headcount by 25 per cent.
All but one of TLT’s lateral partner hires have been male; its record in promoting women is slightly better, with four out of 12 internal promotions female.
The firm did not supply information on partner departures but there have been only a handful of reported losses in the past four years and none since October 2010, when family partner Alison Hawes joined Irwin Mitchell.
Another four partner departures have been reported by The Lawyer since 2007-08. Tax partner Mary McCartney moved to Clarke Willmott in July 2007 and litigator Jon Sharpe went to HBJ Gateley Wareing in September the same year.
In 2009, Trowers & Hamlins hired banking partner Neil Waller for its Manchester office and in December aviation partner Michael Offer moved to Harbottle & Lewis as a consultant.
TLT attributes its good retention in recent years to the efforts it has put into motivation and engagement of staff. In November 2010 the firm introduced a performance grading system, standardising evaluation of performance across the firm.
It has also introduced a formal talent management programme aimed at identifying potential partners, which has helped it retain those associates on track to be promoted.
The most promising are put on an accelerated leadership programme, which includes training and one-to-one mentoring. Of the first 10 participants, two have already been promoted to partner while five are likely to be promoted within the next two years.
Promotions and senior hires
David Pester, managing partner
TLT’s managing partner Pester is one of 14 current partners who trained at the firm
Kate Silverman, social housing
Silverman was hired from Lewis Silkin in 2009-10 as an associate and promoted to partner this year
Neel Mehta, construction
Bristol construction partner Mehta, promoted in 2010-11, was a TLT trainee