A&O plans overhaul of associate career path

Allen & Overy

(A&O) has rolled out its long-awaited proposals to reform London associate career progression following a year when its attrition rate topped 25 per cent.

Managing partner David Morley and HR head Genevieve Tennant made their final presentations in December last year. As first revealed on www.thelawyer. com (21 December), the proposals include a revamp of training as well as a more transparent career ladder.

The Morley proposals, which will be finalised in April, include the introduction of a new level of managing associate for the equivalent of four, five and six years’ UK-qualified PQE.

The managing associate role will be awarded “only to those with real potential to be partners (but no guarantee)”, according to a document seen by The Lawyer.

Linklaters introduced managing associate roles around four years ago for associates with a minimum of four years’ PQE. As with the case of A&O, at Linklaters promotion to managing associate is not automatic, with around 50 per cent of associates making the grade the first time round.

Linklaters managing partner Tony Angel said: “We found the introduction of a managing associate grade helpful to both partners and associates.”

As revealed in The Lawyer (12 December), A&O is also introducing the title of counsel as an alternative to partnership. The counsel role, which will be restricted to a small number of candidates, will only be awarded to lawyers with the same PQE as that required for partner.

Morley told The Lawyer: “The counsel role will be given to people with a business-critical contribution to make. It’s not a reward for long service. It’s not an elephants’ graveyard.”

The selection process will begin in autumn 2006, leading to the first promotion of partners, counsel and managing associates on 1 May 2007.