RPC ditches annual performance reviews

RPC is overhauling its performance review framework for associates at the same time as mulling changes to associate remuneration.

Currently RPC associates undergo an annual review during which they rate their own performance before having a formal meeting with a partner.

The new system will be run online and requires partners to have regular performance discussions with associates throughout the year.

Speaking about the old system HR manager Rachel Davis said: “We found that the amount of time that it was taking and the value that was coming out of it didn’t add up.

“Now we’re moving away from the burden of paperwork and more towards having quality conversations. There’s no form to complete and we’re introducing an online automated system that people can use as much or as little as they like.”

The changes follow a trend for UK firms reconsidering the way they treat their associates in order to boost retention.

Ashurst and CMS are both trialling new systems of allocating work to corporate associates to increase efficiency and fairness among their associate ranks. Clifford Chance implemented a similar system in 2012.

At RPC, associates were rated on a scale from O to U, with O being “outstanding” while a U rating was given to those whose work was deemed “unsatisfactory”. The rating method will be scrapped when the new framework is introduced in September.

Under the new system meetings will be held every two weeks to discuss the associate’s short-term workload and future assignments. The meetings are expected to last between 10 and 15 minutes each.

Lawyers will also have a quarterly meeting with a partner to discuss their individual performance and their professional development. This will take the place of the annual review.

After each quarterly meeting a “pulse survey” will be sent to the lawyer involved to make sure the meeting was carried out and that they felt they had adequately discussed their career development.

Partners will also be now required to meet with their practice’s HR business partner to discuss the “talent pipeline” within their group. This will include discussions around promotion opportunities.

RPC is also considering changing its associate remuneration structure. Details of the proposed changes are not yet known, although the firm said a shift would not be related to the performance framework overhaul.