Norton Rose issues warning shot to underperforming partners

Norton Rose has warned selected partners to improve their performance or risk being asked to leave or be moved down the lockstep.

A number of partners across offices of the UK LLP received letters from firm management in January requesting them to improve by the end of the financial year.

Failure to do so would potentially result in them being moved down the lockstep or put on notice to exit the firm.

Although the firm manages performance on an annual basis, it is understood that a larger number of partners have been affected this year than the handful who received letters in previous years.

In addition, the stage of the year at which warning letters go out has switched from October to January as a result of a new remuneration structure brought in last year that focuses more on performance (29 September 2011).

The process comes ahead of the firm’s merger with Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski on 1 June, with CEO Peter Martyr confirming in November that no partners would be forced to leave as a result of the combination (19 November 2012).

Norton Rose said there had been “no significant changes” to the performance management regime, but a source close to the firm commented: “It seems a lot more pro-active than it was in the past. It seems there are a lot of people being affected on this occasion. I’m surprised by the scale of it.”

The firm said in a statement: “We do not discuss personal partner issues and in particular partner performance issues. However, we can comment that, like the majority of our peers, we continually monitor partner performance throughout the financial year, and this year is no exception.

“Again, like the majority of our peers, we have a well-developed appraisal system for partners, associate and staff, which we have followed for a number of years and there are no significant changes to our system this year.”