Bircham ditches PQE for merit-based system

Bircham Dyson Bell has discarded the traditional use of PQE as the key component in grading solicitors.

The firm has replaced it with a new performance-based structure, the Career Development Framework (CDF).

HR director Richard Walden said that the PQE system is “outdated and fails to recognise the quality of work delivered”.

The CDF establishes four levels of seniority, based on the achievement of specified criteria, comprising solicitor, associate, senior associate and partner.

Since the implementation of the new structure, Bircham has promoted nine lawyers to senior associate level and 23 to associate.

“Our new framework not only ensures that people’s careers progress in line with achievements and performance, but also gives a more transparent and defined career path,” said Walden.

Guy Vincent, managing partner at Bircham, said: “It provides a genuine opportunity for those of exceptional talent to rise quickly through the ranks.”

Vincent also confirmed that the firm is in the process of reviewing candidates for promotion to partner and will announce the results of this in due course.

Bircham’s move follows Arnold & Porter’s restructuring of its London associates’ remuneration to take account of the changes relating to age discrimination in the UK, as revealed (26 April).

Like Bircham, the US firm is planning to move away from a lockstep-based system to a skills-based salary structure from the beginning of next year.

Other law firms, due to the Age Discrimination Act, are expected to make the move over the CPD.