DLA Piper to managers: start billing or stop earning

DLA Piper is planning to ringfence management pay among its sector and group in a bid to increase fee-earning levels amongst its senior lawyers.

The move is understood to be aimed at quelling partner discontent over the number of non-fee earning managers at the firm.

The plan is expected to be aired at the DLA’s international board meeting at the end of the month, although it hasn’t formally been added to the agenda.

An insider said some partners leading practice and sector groups at the firm are rumoured to be earning as much as between £700,000 and £800,000 and doing no fee-earning work at all. DLA’s LLP accounts revealed that in 2012/13 the firm’s highest paid partner – understood to be the firm’s joint chief executive and managing partner Sir Nigel Knowles – received a remuneration package of £1.8m, a 3.3 per cent increase on the previous year (4 February 2014).

The move is expected to bring the International LLP into line with DLA in the US, where partners are both managers and fee-earners.

The news comes a little more than a month after DLA Piper announced a shake-up of its management team. The move will see Knowles replace Tony Angel as global co-chairman and London intellectual property partner Simon Levine appointed as joint CEO (4 February 2014).

Streamlining management has also been on the agenda at Linklaters in recent weeks, with the firm considering a merger of its two senior management boards so that more partners can focus on fee-earning (27 February 2014).

DLA Piper declined to comment.