White & Case puts partner billing in the spotlight

White & Case is set to crack down on partner performance by stepping up its emphasis on partners hitting billable hours targets.

Oliver Brettle
Oliver Brettle

Management at the US firm has approved a network-wide policy to bring the firm in line with competitors by increasing the number of billable hours partners put in.

The firm has previously had a billable hours target for partners, but this decision is a move to emphasise the requirement to hit this goal in response to market conditions and a drop in partner performance.

The firm would not comment on the number of hours partners are expected to bill per year, but it is understood that the move is to draw to partners’ attention the need to clock up the required number.

London executive partner Oliver Brettle said: “It’s clear that all firms will be looking at the performance of their partners. Obviously an important factor is client chargeable hours, but of course you also need to look at the partners’ ability to win business and the profitability of that business.

“It’s an important point to make that we’ve got to have productive partners. If you’re busy on client work then you’re seen in the market.”

White & Case posted a 4 per cent rise in turnover for 2011, with global profit per equity partner dropping by 5 per cent (1 March 2012).