Linklaters puts spotlight on partner performance with corporate reshuffle

Linklaters will today announce a reorganisation of its London corporate group as management focuses on partner performance.

A number of partners, believed to be under five, will retire over the next financial year while others will move within the London corporate practice’s four groups.

Sources state that the reorganisation is being implemented to “balance out” each of the four groups to comparable sizes as, for example, lawyers return from overseas postings.

It is also understood that the retiring partners will help loosen a log jam of partners at the top of lockstep to allow for the progression
of younger lawyers.

Sources said the retirements could equate to more than 10 per cent of the London practice. Linklaters head of corporate David Cheyne denied this.

Of the UK’s top tier, Linklaters and Slaughter and May have the smallest London corporate groups, with 48 and 40 partners respectively.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer boasts 59 corporate partners, while Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance also house large corporate groups, with 50 and 57 partners respectively.

Linklaters’ reorganisation is a sign that there will be no let-up from management in assessing partner performance.

Sources close to the firm say the most recent changes are not motivated by attempts to push up profit, although Linklaters has put in place ambitious targets to push top of equity to £1.25m by 2005, with each point worth £50,000. Lockstep at the firm runs from 10 points to 25 units at the top.

In the last financial year, plateau partners earned £864,000, or £35,000 per point.

Total London-based corporate partners
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 59
Clifford Chance 57
Allen & Overy 50
Linklaters 48
Slaughter and May 40
Source: The Lawyer