CC re-examines associate bonuses

Clifford Chance is set for a radical overhaul of its associate bonus system, with the maximum award now open only to senior associates and payments no longer based primarily on hours worked.

The maximum bonus payout available to assistants at the magic circle firm remains at 40 per cent of base salary, but anyone below senior associate level will no longer be eligible for the top bracket.

Previously, any associate with a minimum of four years’ PQE qualified for an award of 40 per cent.

As before, lawyers with six months’ to a year’s PQE can receive as much as 20 per cent, with the figure rising to 30 per cent for ­anyone from one and a half years’ PQE upwards.

In addition, the firm will abandon its system of fixing bonus allocation to hours worked.

A spokesperson for ­Clifford Chance said: “While billable and investment hours continue to be ­important, the bonus will not be directly linked to achieving a target number of hours. We’ll weigh a ­number of factors to ensure a balanced and flexible bonus scheme.”

The news comes after Clifford Chance joined Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in announcing that it would unfreeze ­associate salaries. Linklaters, which did not freeze salaries, has also revealed its associate pay scales for 2010-11, with bands staying at the same level as last year, having been scaled back 12 months ago.