Lockstep on radar as Links’ new chief takes reins

Linklaters’ senior partner-elect Robert Elliott has hinted that the firm’s lockstep system could be open to change following an election in which the issue was raised repeatedly.

Robert Elliott
Robert Elliott

Elliott was confirmed as the magic circle firm’s senior partner following a contest during which the structure of the partnership and the remuneration system were key points of debate.

Linklaters operates a classic lockstep for partners and since the mid-1990s has been moving towards a full-equity partnership with only a rump of salaried partners in a few jurisdictions.

Despite aligning himself with the principles of the current system, Elliott said that a continual review of the structure of the partnership was important.

“I’m committed to lockstep as being at the heart of our remuneration system but we have some flexibility within that and there will be continuing discussions about it,” he said. “The move towards all-equity was sensible, but there probably needs to be more flexibility around the edges to achieve what we want to achieve.”

The former global banking head defeated litigation chief John Turnbull and European managing partner Jean-Pierre Blumberg, with the Belgium-based partner suggesting modifications to the lockstep might foster more internationalism at the firm.

Following Blumberg’s presentation at a partner conference last month one partner said: “He wanted more flexibility about the lockstep so the firm was able to make up partners wherever they were needed.”