Associate lockstep a thing of the past as Howrey looks to ability

Howrey is set to shift its associate compensation away from lockstep and towards a skills-based system.

The firm aims to introduce a new remuneration system on 1 January 2008, the beginning of its financial year.

Howrey managing partner and chief executive Bob Ruyak said it had become clear over the past three years that a lockstep system for associates was no longer tenable.

The move is an attempt to introduce greater flexibility to cater for high-flying associates, late starters with alternative qualifications and part-time lawyers.

Howrey has been working on the new system, to be based on five levels of competency, since last autumn. It hopes to have the details of the framework finalised by 1 October this year, ready for implementation in January.

“We introduced new competency models three years ago to clarify the path to partnership and highlight the criteria that, over time, would allow an associate to progress,” said Ruyak. “We eventually realised that, as associates progress at different rates, this would result in having to change the compensation structure, as lockstep doesn’t fit with a competency model.”

The new system will apply across all of Howrey’s offices and level one will currently start on $160,000 (£79,200) in the US.