Simmons & Simmons has taken the unusual step of abolishing the concept of salaried partners and has brought all its 50 or so salaried partners into the profit-sharing pool.
One source claimed Simmons had asked a dozen partners to leave in the run-up to the restructuring, but chief executive Alan Morris denied this.
The restructuring is a brave move by a firm which is probably the least profitable of the top City practices. By sharing its profits between more people, it has reduced the amount each can get.
But it will also have boosted morale among nearly half its partners who were unable to share in the decisions and successes of the firm.
The firm will not reveal the figures but it is thought that at the end of the last financial year it had between 80 and 90 equity partners and a further 45-55 salaried partners.
In the new financial year, on 1 May, the firm made up 17 partners in London and brought its existing salaried partners into the equity to create a total of about 160 equity partners.
The move coincides with the firm's introduction of an element of performance-based pay – revealed by The Lawyer last September – under which a proportion of profits (15 per cent this year and 20 per cent next) will be allocated to partners on the basis of merit points.
Simmons corporate partner Roger Butterworth joined Bird & Bird in July. Butterworth said he was leaving to broaden his corporate practice. At Simmons he had been confined largely to advising on the Railtrack privatisation.
“I had my own practice reasons for moving on. Those reasons stood on their own,” he said when questioned about whether he had been asked to leave.
Another Simmons corporate partner, Michael Prosser, joined Clyde & Co this month. He did return our calls.