Baker & McKenzie Shakes Up London Associate Pay With New Merit-Based Model

Baker & McKenzie has overhauled its pay structure for London associates in a move away from the traditional post qualification experience (PQE) model to a three-tier, merit-based system.

The three new levels are junior associate, mid-level associate and senior associate, with those adjudged to have met performance expectations rising to mid-level at two years’ PQE and from mid-level to senior after five years.

Each of these roles will cover a broad pay bracket with pay levels determined by performance. The firm hopes the new system will encourage its associates to develop at a faster rate.

Bakers is also appointing partner “coaches” who will take responsibility to help associates develop within their department.

The new system is the brainchild of Bakers HR director Martin Blackburn, who developed the idea as a result of feedback received from the firm’s partners and associates.

Blackburn said: “Associates were telling us that they wanted more feedback and more openness about their potential and career options. They wanted a longer-term mentor relationship with a nominated partner and we simply combined these ideas into the ‘coach’ who is responsible for no more than six associates over a significant part of their career.”

The new structure has already been implemented, although no changes will be made to associate pay until next year’s annual pay review.

The firm is also planning to make changes to associate charge-out rates in order to reflect the new structure.