Letters of the law

Speak to most managing partners of top 50 firms and they will wax lyrical about ‘competency frameworks’ that they are rolling out for their associates. Most programmes are variations on a theme: band associates by experience, then for each band have various soft skills that are expected.

For example, a four year-PQE associate might be expected to have an article published and have experience negotiating client fees.

There is much comment from senior management on how frameworks give direction to associates. All true, no doubt.

But it is refreshing to hear from one City managing partner that in fact frameworks are a nifty way to circumvent age-discrimination legislation introduced in October 2006 that has recruitment officers fretting about using PQE references on recruitment ads. This way, rather than using the dreaded three letters, expectations and experience synonymous with a PQE level can be mentioned instead – lateral thinking that any five year-PQE lawyer should be expected to emulate.