Travers pay review dilutes strict lockstep

Travers Smith has concluded its associate pay review, opting to maintain its lockstep structure for junior associates but adding in additional flexibility for those working “excessive” hours or approaching partnership level.

Andrew Lilley
Andrew Lilley

The 10-month review, led by pensions partner Paul Stannard alongside managing partner Andrew Lilley, followed moves by a number of firms to shift from a tight lockstep model towards a more merit-based approach. 

Travers will continue to operate a lockstep for junior and mid-level associates, offering firm-wide bonuses at year end. However, it will offer an additional one-off payment to those who have experienced “excessive disruption” in their personal lives, and new flexibility for associates with six years’ post-qualification experience (PQE).

Lilley said: “Occasionally, because of the way that working patterns go, some associates had disrupted personal lives because of their work patterns. They might be more miserable than we would want them to be, so we’ve added a little bit of flexibility for those who have had an excessively disrupted year.”

He continued: “At the top end of the associate ranks, after about six years, we have more flexibility to depart from the precise lockstep band. It reflects the fact that associates have a much wider range of aspirations at that stage of their careers.”

The review started last year (24 September 2012).

Partners at the firm will still be remunerated using a separate system comprising a lockstep with an additional bonus pool for star performers.

The changes are reminiscient of Slaughter and May’s recent decision to increase pay to associates with at least four years PQE (17 January 2013). In maintaining its lockstep up to six years PQE, Travers has also stopped short of changes made by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (26 September 2011) and SJ Berwin (25 April 2011), which have both ditched the system in favour of performance-related pay since September 2011. 

The changes will come into effect at Travers’ financial year end on 1 July.