Travers Smith has become the latest City firm to overhaul its lockstep for senior associates in a bid to incentivise and reward lawyers for their hard work and interruptions to family life as they approach partnership.
Led by managing partner Andrew Lilley and pensions partner Paul Stannard, a 10-month review has concluded that Travers should continue to operate a strict lockstep for junior and mid-level associates, under which they receive an annual bonus at the end of the year. However, a new, more merit-based system will now be introduced for senior lawyers, including an additional one-off payment for those that have experienced disruption in their personal lives and increased flexibility from the lockstep structure for associates with six years’ post qualification experience (PQE).
A firm spokesperson told Legal Business that the plan is to identify and reward those who have made sacrifices during tougher periods, where individuals might have a more demanding client than their peers and miss out on family or social life.
Associate pay has over the past few years moved from the entirely dominant lockstep to a more flexible, merit-driven version. Though the jargon differs between firms, the basic idea is the same: seniority-driven pay to three year PQE, soon after which kicks in some form of discretionary promotion or assessment that defines salaries and career tracks. While the mid-tier pioneered it, Freshfields’ recent introduction of a four-stage ‘milestone’ framework was hugely significant. Even the famously conservative Slaughters is currently bringing in some grading beyond the four year PQE point.
Meanwhile, Travers confirmed it would be announcing its associate salary review at its financial year end on 1 July. Last year’s starting salary currently stands at £38,000 while a three-year PQE associate is paid £86,000.