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Slaughter and May is scrutinising its benefit packages as it widens its pension scheme to all staff to ensure that it remains competitive.
Only staff over 33 years of age are currently eligible for the pension scheme, which is used primarily by administrative staff.
But the new Money Purchase Scheme, to be brought in from April 2001 and backdated to November 2000, will be available to all employees aged 18 and over. The firm will pay contributions for those who join the scheme and will match contributions when staff reach a certain age, expected to be 25.
Corporate partner Andy Ryde says: "This scheme will be useful to lawyers in their 20s who stay for a few years and otherwise would not benefit."
Ryde says that although the step is undoubtedly welcomed by Slaughters' assistant solicitors, it is not part of a retention or recruitment strategy. "We have to do lots of things to retain staff and we don't see this as particularly a recruitment or retention initiative. It is more that we see it as the right thing to do.
"The focus we have got from the Government at the moment on stakeholder pensions and the importance of people making provisions means that we felt we ought to respond.
"People are alive to what's available at other firms and we're conscious of the need to be competitive.
"This is not a new departure, but because of developments in the market over the last few years we have to keep our fingers on the pulse. We've always been proactive."
Staff were not formally consulted on the scheme. Holidays, bonuses and unpaid leave are also under review.