Under the new system, 44 of the total 97 partners the firm has will be made up to the assured equity partner (AEP) position and 28 to the variable equity partner role (VEP).

Ten per cent of the AEPs’ remuneration will be contingent on the firm hitting its target. VEPs’ earnings will be dependent on points that will be awarded by a new committee. The fate of the remaining 25 partners hangs in the balance.

Perhaps to stem the criticism, Cobbetts has made 10 lawyers ‘directors’ – a new role that lies between senior associate and partner level.

“People say directors are just salaried partners, but for some people the director role will satisfy their career ambitions; for others it will be a stepping stone [to the partnership],” argues managing partner Michael Shaw.