Travers of counsel hire sparks career path rethink

Travers Smith has scooped Citigroup Global’s senior counsel for M&A, prompting a wholesale review of the firm’s career paths.

Sandra Bates joins from Citigroup later this month as of counsel, a position that was introduced last year but which is yet to be formalised.

Managing partner Chris Carroll told The Lawyer: “The aspiration of assistants these days is not always to work flat out for partnership. Some seek part-time and flexible working arrangements, which we seek to accommodate.

“Having said that, our business model wouldn’t permit every assistant to stay on in perpetuity in a senior of counsel role.”

It is expected that senior associates who do not want to become a partner would apply for the role, which does not share in the equity.

The alternative career path is part of a radical overhaul of the way Travers monitors and treats its staff. The firm has also introduced a diversity panel that monitors how inclusive it is.

“We take diversity extremely seriously,” said Carroll. “We’d like to attract more trainees from ethnic minorities. The key is to look at good universities that are also diverse, such as UCL [University College London] and King’s [College London], beyond Oxbridge.”

In 2005, out of 39 trainees at Travers, five were from ethnic minority backgrounds. In August 2006 two out of Travers’ 57 partners were from an ethnic minority.