Is the magic circle losing its love of lockstep?

The magic circle has spent decades protecting its lockstep but firms seem to be accepting the time might be right to embrace flexibility.

As our story today reveals a high-level source within Linklaters has given the strongest signal yet that the firm could be prepared to break its rigid lockstep ladder in the future for the sake of US expansion.

The comments come just months after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s lockstep-busting swathe of US hires in September.

With heavy competition from US firms and a keen awareness that the blockbuster remuneration commanded by American stars doesn’t fit with even the most generous lockstep, is it time for a change?

It wouldn’t be the first time. Clifford Chance and Freshfields have both injected flexibility into their models before, with Clifford Chance voting for a three-tier lockstep as early as 2005.

With  Linklaters voting today on its US strategy, remuneration is definitely on the mind.

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