Simmons & Simmons poised to revolutionise partnership track

Senior partner Gaymer to push for flexible working across the firm by 2007 in bid to stem talent loss at three years’ PQE

Senior partner and employment expert Janet Gaymer wants to tear up the traditional contract for lawyers and turn it on its head.

“This is a business issue and you can’t ignore it, because you’re losing talent, and it’s very expensive talent,” Gaymer told The Lawyer.

Simmons plans to undertake trials in cer- tain practice areas. Trans-actional practices, in which lawyers could sell their services on a project-by-project basis, will not necessarily be excluded.

Gaymer was due to address Simmons’ partnership on the issue at the annual meeting last weekend (12-13 March) with the aim of implementing her revolutionary ideas by 2007.

“The questions we’re asking are, ‘Is the current way of working the right way? And what are the alternatives?’ It’s looking at the business model of the traditional contract of employment. It was de-signed for a society which is now so very different,” said Gaymer. “We’re looking at a multi-career track concept.”

While this is traditionally viewed as an issue for working mothers, Gaymer and new managing partner Mark Dawkins want to include all lawyers in their revamped business model.

“One of the pressing issues that we have at the moment is the retention of lawyers at three and four years’ PQE, who basically reject the traditional model. That’s not a gender issue – it’s actually applicable to both male and female lawyers,” said Gaymer.

Gaymer has drawn inspiration from a study of City law firms entitled ‘Male Lawyers and the Negotiation of Work and Family Commitments’ by Richard Collier, professor of law at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Collier said: “There’s pressure from clients. They don’t want exhausted lawyers.”