Field Fisher ditches salaried tag in partnership revamp

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) has axed its salaried partner ranks in a restructuring that leaves it with two classes of partner.

The firm now has only full-equity partners and fixed-share partners after it streamlined its previous system under which it had three types: full equity, fixed share and salaried, in addition to some anomalies.

The system came into effect earlier this year and means a number of salaried and fixed-share partners have been made up to equity or fixed share, although no de-equitisations occurred.

Technology partner Michael Chissick, who is acting as managing partner while firm head Matthew Lohn is on leave, said the firm still had “one or two anomalies” who did not fit into the two categories but that “99 per cent” were now either full equity or fixed share. Roughly 55 of the firm’s 150 partners globally are now full-equity partners, the equivalent of 37 per cent.

The move grants FFW a broader capital base, with investment in the firm coming from a larger number of partners. The metrics for achieving equity partnership have been loosened, although capital requirements have remained the same.

Chissick commented: “The broadness of the equity is more in touch with how things are going in the City. It broadens the base of the equity, which makes it a simpler business.”

He said it made the firm more in line with the likes of DLA Piper and Olswang in terms of the strategy of streamlining the system. DLA Piper this year brought in an all-equity structure outside the US (14 March 2012), while Olswang made a similar move last year by removing the distinction between its two classes of partner (5 September 2011).

The changes were part of FFW’s constitutional revamp, which came into effect on 1 May. Partners voted for the changes, which included scrapping the senior partner role, in January (19 January 2012).

FFW is currently engaged in merger talks with Osborne Clarke, with a potential deal producing a firm with a combined turnover of roughly £200m (17 September 2012).