Masons ditches lockstep for merit-based system

Masons is set to abandon lockstep in favour of a merit-based remuneration system.

The firm’s partnership board has been reviewing the system and The Lawyer understands that a partnership vote on the matter is imminent.

Sources close to the firm suggested that the new system will be based partly on performance and partly on seniority.

“If you go from a lockstep to an ‘eat what you kill’ scheme, then that’s a massive cultural change and you’d be mad to do that,” said a source at the firm.

Factors such as associate training and firm management are likely to be considered, in addition to pure performance factors such as billable work and new business generation.

Profit slumps have caused a number of law firms to consider ditching lockstep. Simmons & Simmons has conducted a review of its modified lockstep and the merger talks between Ashurst Morris Crisp and Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson have caused Ashursts to review its remuneration structure.

The Lawyer understands that Masons’ move away from lockstep has nothing to do with the recently launched joint venture with US firm Thelen Reid & Priest.

Named Masons Thelen Reid, the joint venture focuses on international infrastructure projects, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India, the Middle East and South America.