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‘Enhancing our approach to development’: A&O drops annual appraisals in performance pilot scheme

Allen & Overy (A&O) confirmed today (4 May) that it has been running a performance pilot scheme for the last six months, dropping traditional annual appraisals in a new approach to performance management.

The pilot scheme, focused on feedback and dialogue as tools to strengthen development and performance, has been running since October 2016 and currently involves 500 fee-earners and business staff across several practice groups and support functions in London, Singapore and the Middle East.

Given the positive feedback, particularly in engaging female associates on their career development, the firm is planning to roll out a second phase of the pilot later in 2017 involving more people, offices and practice areas worldwide.

A&O global HR director Sasha Hardman said: ‘We are always looking to evolve what we do to ensure that we have the best possible platforms for the development of our people. We are very pleased that the pilot has been received so positively and are using the feedback from it to enhance our approach and look forward to extending and developing it for the second phase.’

Last month A&O made up 24 partners worldwide, including 10 in London, with banking, international capital markets and corporate each seeing three promotions in the City in an increased global round. However, only two women were made up to partnership this year, making up just 8% of total promotions.

As a response, the firm pledged to achieve better gender balance continuing to work towards the existing target of at least 20% female partners by 2020, and new targets including ensuring 30% of yearly partner promotions will be women and achieve 30% women to non-elected leadership roles by 2020.

In a continuing bid to remain competitive, earlier this year Legal Business reported A&O broke lockstep again for a New York finance team, about six months after it used its rejigged remuneration system to bring in a four partner leveraged finance team.