Slaughters drops performances scores after associate appraisal review

Slaughter and May has decided to drop performance scores for its associates after a six-month review of its appraisal system.

The review was led by executive partner Paul Stacey, who took on the role from Richard Clark in November 2016.

Instead of allocating points against three areas of performance – legal, business development and interpersonal – Slaughters is instead placing more emphasis on ongoing feedback for its junior lawyers.

Ongoing feedback means partners will evaluate associates after each piece of work is carried out, such as a transaction or litigation case.

“We want associates to proactively ask for feedback in the moment,” said Stacey. “They do already do this to an extent, but we want to encourage them to do it more and for partners to support them when asked.”

The firm is also appointing “continuity” partners to help mentor associates in March. These partners will stay in place for several years so that they will be able to focus on long-term career development for associates.

In September, Slaughters introduced “recovery time” meaning associates may be able to gain back hours in lieu after working on large transactions.

The firm was supported in the review by MDV Consultants, a leadership and talent advisory service in the City. Stacey said MDV “helped us to produce a tailored fit for the firm.”

“We also ran a series of focus groups before going back to our group HR partners to consider the options.”

The review was a follow-on from the firm’s employment engagement survey when the firm revealed it was hiking pay significantly by around 8 to 10 per cent.

Slaughters also introduced sabbaticals and flexible working options for its junior lawyers as part of a major consultation of the firm’s benefits.

Last December, Slaughters increased its junior lawyer salaries for 2018 and offered bonuses for its associates.

The bonus ranged from 9 per cent to 16 per cent, with the top bonus applicable for lawyers between 4.5 to 6.5 years post qualified experience.