Clifford Chance is set to review its partner appraisals as it looks to boost transparency following a number lockstep changes in 2017.
The Lawyer understands that, while there has not yet been a concrete proposal put forward, the firm is pursuing conversations with partners about remuneration.
A lockstep review began in January 2015 with partners voting for a new, more flexible lockstep system in May of that year. Up to six partners were understood to be rewarded as part its ‘superpoints’ system, designed to reward star performers, last month.
One Clifford Chance partner said: “The firm is continuing to debate on the best way to review partners, and it certainly isn’t surprising when you consider what’s happening at Freshfields.”
Clifford Chance’s magic circle rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer voted on a lockstep reform earlier this month. Partners agreed to put a ‘pure’ lockstep system in place across all of the firm’s offices.
A partner said: “Metrics need to be clear and understood which makes this an issue of transparency. [Clifford Chance managing partner] Matthew Layton’s strategy is focused on the right work, right clients and right markets. If you don’t act on it, then there is a danger that it becomes all talk.”
It is understood that one of Layton’s key mandates when running for election previously was to look into the firm’s lockstep. This seems to have been accelerated over the past 12 months.
When the changes were made in May 2015, the ceiling for star performers was raised from 100 points to 115 or 30. By doing so, Clifford Chance became the first UK firm to introduce this system.
It is understood that the system could now run as high as 190 points.
The global review of the firm’s remuneration system has resulted in a number of key decisions. Partners in its Perth office saw their points nearly halved, falling from 49 to 29, while those in continental Europe had theirs capped at 70.