A&O to stake all on career path revamp

Allen & Overy

(A&O) has invited senior associates to attend a meeting with the firm’s managing partner David Morley to finalise plans that will radically overhaul lawyers’ career structures.

One of the proposals that will be presented to senior associates will be the introduction of a role akin to that of ‘of counsel’ as an alternative to becoming a partner, according to well-placed sources.

One senior A&O partner said: “The of counsel role is fine for people who don’t want to become partners or for those who don’t have all the skills to become a partner.”

Of counsel is a title given to senior lawyers at a number of US firms, but it is rarely used in the UK. Although it is not impossible for of counsel to become partners, the role is broadly considered as an alternative to becoming a partner.

The firm is convening three separate sessions during the week beginning 19 December, where Morley will present the findings of the firm’s consultation on alternative career paths. He will also put forward a number of proposals for shaking up the existing system. The review, which is being spearheaded by HR director Genevieve Tennant, is part of a series of measures A&O is taking after it emerged that the magic circle firm had an assistant turnover rate of 25 per cent. It also followed the creation of the new role of ‘associate director’ to reward talented non-legal staff.

As first reported in The Lawyer (17 October), A&O raised the salaries of its 500 London-based associates by at least 10 per cent.

The firm raised the rates for London associates with two years’ post-qualification experience from £59,000 to £62,000 with effect from 1 November. This is to be followed by a further increase on 1 May 2006, when associates will be paid £71,000.

A&O declined to comment.