Baker & McKenzie rethinks PQE model for City associates

Baker & McKenzie is to change its approach to the post qualification experience (PQE) model by opting for a system that will increase the pay of London associates by merit as well as experience.

The model will see the firm introduce broader salary brands aligned around three roles – junior associate, mid-level associate and senior associate, with salaries between the roles likely to overlap. Associates that are rated as meeting the firm’s expectations or above will progress from junior to mid-level at two years’ PQE and mid-level to senior at five years’ PQE. 

The migration away from the firm’s current PQE system, which rewards associates based on years of experience, was spearheaded by the firm’s London HR director Martin Blackburn following feedback from a recent associate survey.

In a brochure sent round the office the firm outlined its aims to develop its associates faster than that of its competitors, with associates expected to undertake a programme covering the core skills required throughout their years at each of the three levels.

“If we can recruit the best and develop them faster than our competitors, we not only achieve competitive advantage, we also create a compelling employee proposition where our associates can genuinely be the best they can be,” said the firm’s London managing partner Gary Senior.

Each associate will also have a ‘coach’ – expected to be a partner from each department – responsible for assessing their performance and providing feedback. For senior associates with six years PQE the firm will implement a ‘development centre’ which will draw on a range of exercises, including psychometrics and role plays, to provide them with a clearer picture of their future development.