Travers launches associate pay review

Travers Smith has launched a review into its associate pay system as it looks to assess how its rigid lockstep for legal staff compares with the rest of the market.

Andrew Lilley
Andrew Lilley

The firm has consulted with recruiters to guide it through the process, which follows moves by a number of rivals to loosen their associate remuneration scheme in favour of a more merit-based approach.

Travers currently operates a lockstep for associates and only offers firm-wide bonuses rather than individual payouts to high-achieving lawyers.

Partners, meanwhile, are remunerated using a separate system comprising a pure lockstep with an additional bonus pool for star performers.

Pensions partner Paul Stannard is understood to be heading the project alongside managing partner Andrew Lilley, which includes looking at how other firms’ bonus pools work. However, a source close to the matter suggested a move away from the lockstep would be unlikely given the HR capability required to operate a merit-based system.

Lilley said: “We’ve met a couple of recruitment consultants to hear their views on the latest market trends and changes that other firms have made. Our system has been in place for many years and it’s far too soon to say whether we’ll do anything.”

The project follows a trend set by a number of City firms to re-assess their formal pay ladder and bring in a system determined more by performance criteria.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer this year introduced a merit-based pay system for associates to replace its traditional lockstep (26 September 2011). SJ Berwin also ditched its associate lockstep in favour of performance-related pay last year (25 April 2011).