Lovells tinkers with lockstep again

Lovells is reviewing its lockstep once again with the intention of allowing partners in economically weaker jurisdictions to enter the equity.

Currently the firm’s equity ladder starts at 30 points, increasing by three points a year over a 10-year period. However, with partners having to meet certain requirements in order to enter the lockstep it has been harder for those in low-revenue offices to attain the 30 point minimum.

Senior partner John Young said: “When we established the 30 point norm part of the report noted that there may be cases where we would appoint partners on less than 30 points. There are a couple of candidates this year where we might want to use that power.

“One of the reasons for proposing appointing people lower down is to make sure that we do make up partners in jurisdictions that might be economically weaker. It would be difficult to justify having them leap in at the same level as in other offices.”

The matter has been discussed at by the international executive and partnership counsel, which are currently taking soundings from practice stream leaders on who the lower entry level should apply to.

At this stage no decisions have been made on what would be an appropriate number of points to enter on, though Young said it is likely that partners would come into the equity on 21, 24 or 27 points. Their plateau level would be adjusted accordingly.

Last year Lovells upped the entry level on its lockstep from 24 points to 30, reducing the time taken to reach plateau from 12 years to 10 (www.thelawyer.com, 9 August 2006). This was supposed to be the culmination of a lengthy review process. As part of that lockstep review the partnership also rejected plans to pay exceptional US partners more than was permitted by the lockstep.

Earlier this year Clifford Chance moved its Budapest, Warsaw and Prague offices onto a lower lockstep, which runs from 30 to 70 points as opposed to the normal 40 to 100 (The Lawyer, 13 August).