Legal Business Blogs

Linklaters votes for Moore’s lockstep reforms but controversial features dropped

Linklaters partners have voted today (3 November) to accept changes to the firm’s lockstep that will provide more flexibility in moving partners on the ladder.

The changes come from a review of lockstep by managing partner Gideon Moore after he was elected last year.

Proposals reported by Legal Business last month are understood to be set to go ahead, according to partners at the firm.

Linklaters currently has a relatively pure lockstep model running from 10-25 points, with country variable ‘discounts’ used in some foreign markets like Germany and Belgium (respectively equivalent to 90% and 70% of UK partners). Under the proposals it would be doubled to range from 20-50.

A gate will be introduced at the eight progression, and there will be five year reviews for partners who have reached the top of equity in order to make it easier to move partners down the ladder.

A partner at Linklaters said: ‘I don’t think that the partnership is feeling remotely negative towards the proposals. It’s not dramatically changing the nature of the lockstep.’

Legal Business also understands that Moore (pictured) consulted the partnership on proposals with more radical options, with ‘superpoints’ and extra bonuses for high performing partners considered, however these were ultimately dropped.

Another Linklaters partner said: ‘Gideon and Charlie Jacobs have worked hard to get buy-in from partners. Some of the more controversial features have been dropped.’

At Linklaters, top of equity partners pull in around £1.86m, with profit per equity partner currently £1.4m.

Magic Circle firms have recently made moves to introduce more flexibility to their lockstep systems. Allen & Overy introduced a system offering the potential for ‘superpoints’, while Clifford Chance launched a review of where partners should sit on its lockstep in order to retain star partners.

A partner at another Magic Circle firm said: ‘There has been focus on law firms towards equivalence at the performance end. It’s a balancing act, but it’s not the end of lockstep.’

Read more on Linklaters’ new leadership in: ‘Rain men – goodbye Harvard Kool-Aid, hello plain speaking at Linklaters’ c-suite’