DLA Piper non-partners given of counsel option

DLA Piper is set to radically overhaul its associate career path and is considering introducing a role akin to of counsel.

The top 10 firm is in the throes of a major consultation process with its associates and is expected to unveil a major shake-up of its career structure. One model that is being explored is the introduction of an alternative career path for those associates who do not want to become partners.

DLA Piper global chief people officer Robert Halton told The Lawyer: “We’ve been looking at our career model from the perspective that not everyone wants to become a partner. We have people at the firm who haven’t made it through to partner but are still contributing. There’s still room in the firm for them.”

The new role, which has not yet been given a title, will be an alternative to becoming a partner and will not be a holding bay for new partners. The firm has very few equity partners. According to The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report, published today (4 September), only 29 per cent of partners are full equity, the rest being fixed-share. The shortest period between becoming a fixed-share and equity partner is three years. Those associates who become of counsel will not be precluded from becoming a partner if they change their minds.

DLA Piper’s career path already has several layers. Upon qualification trainees are promoted to the solicitor role. Solicitors become eligible for promotion to associate level after four years of post-qualified experience.