City firms rejig assistant work-allocation systems

City firms rejig assistant work-allocation systemsFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters have overhauled their systems for allocating work to corporate associates in response to the M&A boom.

As first reported in The Lawyer (14 November), Freshfields’ corporate group is piloting a system that involves senior associates in the process of assigning work to their peers.

The allocation of work was previously overseen solely by partners. Freshfields’ head of corporate Tim Jones explained that increasing pressure on partners’ time had prompted the group to consider consulting associates in order to ensure an even spread of work.

Linklaters is implementing a similar approach. The corporate group is introducing ‘work-allocation partners’, who are responsible for ensuring matters are distributed fairly between associates in terms of volume and types of transactions.

Linklaters global head of corporate David Barnes said the group had been rolling out the system during the past couple of months, as a result of the increasing workload within the corporate practice.

The change in approach follows a dramatic upturn in corporate activity, which has seen manny of the City’s firms report robust half-year financial results.

Linklaters’ new system replaces a less coordinated approach, in which associates were required to complete a form detailing their current workload at the end of each week. Slaughter and May also uses feedback forms, despite concerns that this and other less coordinated approaches can lead to preferential treatment of certain associates.

A corporate partner at Slaughters said: “We think it’s very important that associates get to work with different partners. It’s important for someone’s career development to learn from the different styles used by partners.”