Macfarlanes, considered one of the most conservative firms in the City, has revamped its career progression system with the introduction of a senior associate level for the first time.
The new level, which will be available to associates from around the six year-PQE stage, is intended to be for lawyers who may already have taken on some of the responsibilities associated with partnership.
Associates will begin to be promoted to the senior level from early next year, with partners nominating assistants for the role.
Banking group head Julian Howard, who will become managing partner in January, said the role is not intended as a “holding pen” for prospective partners, with associates not necessarily having to go through the senior stage to reach the partnership.
“It’s about acknowledging that a number of our top-level associates already take on roles beyond their usual practice,” explained Howard.
Howard added that associates already engaged in training, mentoring or business development will be among those promoted.
The firm, which has traditionally maintained one of the tightest partnerships in the City, has made up just three partners in the last two rounds of promotions.
Macfarlanes has recently made a number of moves to modernise its associate engagement agenda. Earlier this year it introduced an associates committee and is currently overhauling its training programme.