A&O launches associate career shake-up

Allen & Overy (A&O) is this week rolling out its long-awaited proposals to reform London associate career progression after a year when its attrition rate topped 25 per cent.

Managing partner David Morley and HR head Genevieve Tennant are making their final presentations today. The proposals include a revamp of training as well as a more transparent career ladder.

In January the firm will put together partner and associate working parties which will develop the proposals, which will be finalised in April.

A&O is also planning to hold its first ever London senior associate conference in July next year.

The Morley proposals include the introduction of a new level of managing associate for the equivalent of 4, 5 and 6 years UK qualified PQE.

The managing associate role will be awarded “only to those with real potential to be partners (but no guarantee)”, according to a document seen by The Lawyer.

As revealed in The Lawyer on 12 December, the magic circle firm is also introducing the title of counsel as alternative to partnership. The counsel role, which will be restricted to a small number of candidates, will only be awarded to lawyers with the same PQE as for partner.

Morley told The Lawyer: “The counsel role will be given to people with a business critical contribution to make. It’s not a reward for long service. It’s not an elephants’ graveyard.

“Amsterdam and Belgium use this system already and that has been a model we’ve looked at.

“It’s an alternative career where partnership is not appropriate for business or personal reasons.”

The selection process will begin in autumn 2006, leading to the first promotion of partners, counsel and managing associates on 1 May 2007.