Ashurst shakes up bonus criteria with shift towards focus on performance

Ashurst is introducing new criteria for bonuses, after a review that has also seen the firm expand eligibility for awards to all staff.

The changes, overseen by the firm’s global HR team, will see the firm place more of a focus on fee earner performance, as opposed to chargeable hours.

As part of the review, which included consultations with business services and lawyer committees, the firm will also make bonuses available to all employees.

Previously, only fee earners and managers in business services team have been eligible for bonuses, but secretaries and non-managerial staff will now be able to be considered for payouts.

The firm’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and US HR head Claire Townshend said: “Driving and recognising high performance is critical to our business. We have responded to staff feedback and taken on board comments in reviewing our bonus structure.

“In consequence, eligibility for an annual bonus will be extended to all staff globally and for fee earners there will be a real focus on the wider role of the lawyer, not just chargeable hours. This will improve both performance and overall engagement in the business.”

The changes, which are yet to be approved by the firm’s executive committee, follow the release of Ashurst’s gender pay gap figures this week (14 March).

The firm report shows that its female staff are paid 24.8% less on average, while they also receive 64.4% less in average bonus pay. In addition, 44.3% of male staff took home a bonus, compared to 34.1% of women.

Looking at legal staff only, the gender pay gap stands at 16.4% in favour of men, while female lawyers also receive 62.6% less in bonus pay on average.