South East firm Thomas Eggar has a multi-tiered structure for all staff, providing a steady path up the career ladder for lawyers.
Once qualified, lawyers join the firm as solicitors, before progressing to associates and then senior associates. Senior associates enter the partnership as salaried partners, but there is also a fixed-share equity layer between the salaried and equity partnerships.
Over the past few years the firm has made most of its promotions into the salaried partner layer. Of the 14 partner promotions between 2006-07 and 2010-11, eight have been up to salaried partner and six from the salaried and fixed-share equity layers to equity.
There were no lawyer promotions in 2010-11, although tax advisers Michael Taylor and Ana Wisdell were both promoted to director, the firm’s non-lawyer partnership equivalent.
When it comes to internal promotions, Thomas Eggar’s showing in the diversity stakes is good. Five women have been promoted – three to the equity and two to salaried partner.
Of the firm’s six locations, Gatwick saw the most internal promotions. Three-quarters of 2006-07’s promotions were in Gatwick and half the following year. The office also gained one new salaried partner in May 2009 in litigator Robert Kenyon.
London picked up new equity partners Ruth Boulton and Oliver Mayes in May 2007 and May 2008 respectively. In Southampton corporate lawyer Leon Arnold, property lawyer David Fanchi and litigator Hannah Clipston became salaried partners in May 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. In Newbury private client specialist Sarah Phillips was promoted to the salaried partnership in May 2009, while the Chichester office gained new equity partner Richard Jordan in May 2010.
Thomas Eggar’s lateral hiring picture is slightly distorted by a mass hire in December 2007 from Penningtons, when four equity partners and one salaried partner joined to launch a Newbury office. However, salaried partners Anthony Nixon and Balbit Thandi from Lester Aldridge and Faegre & Benson respectively were also recruited in 2006-07.
Other years have been less busy on the recruitment front, with 2010-11 the next most active, with five lateral salaried partner hires.
The firm has done more lateral hiring than promotions into London, adding eight salaried partners in the City since 2006-07. In contrast, Gatwick, the beneficiary of so many internal promotions, gained just two lateral partners. ASB Law partner Matthew Newman was hired in January 2009 and Mishcon de Reya family law associate Shikha Datta became a salaried partner at Thomas Eggar in February 2011.
An impressive 42 per cent, or nine out of 21 laterals at all levels of partnership, were female.
The internal promotions and lateral hires have been offset against a considerable number of departures, particularly in the past few years. Thomas Eggar lost eight partners, mainly equity, in 2009-10 and nine, all but two salaried, in 2010-11. In total the firm bade farewell to 29 partners – 16 salaried and 13 equity – in the five-year period from 2006-07 to 2010-11, including retirements.
The firm is now putting an increased emphasis on its HR strategy. In April it hired HR director Corinne Bennett, who sits on the firm’s board. The firm says Bennett will lead a strategic focus on the “development of and proactive implementation of recruitment, retention and professional development plans”.
Thomas Eggar plans to look at issues such as remuneration, benefits and bonus schemes, as well as the enhancement of its talent pool and further development of training programmes. It already runs what it terms a “people development programme”, called the Thomas Eggar Academy, but it also wants to develop better strategies in succession planning and career paths for its lawyers.
Promotions and senior hires
Sarah Phillips, private client
Phillips is the sole internal Newbury promotion in recent years, being made up in May 2009
Simon Fenton, employment
Now employment head, Fenton joined on the 2007 takeover of Penningtons’ Newbury office
Shikha Datta, family
Datta was hired from Mishcon de Reya in February 2011 and joined Thomas Eggar’s Gatwick office