Slaughters mulls senior adviser role in partnership alternative rethink

Slaughter and May is in the early stages of a review of its career structure for senior lawyers wishing to take an alternative route to partnership.

The magic circle firm has begun a rethink of its senior adviser role, which is broadly aligned with a senior counsel position at other firms.

The title is currently held by two lawyers at the firm – Christopher Wright, who joined from a government role in 1998 and specialises in regulated industries, and competition lawyer Paul Walter, who was handed the title after taking on extra responsibilities when he was a senior associate.

The firm is currently reviewing exactly what the senior adviser role entails and how it fits alongside the firm’s traditional partnership model, and whether there is scope to devise a long-term, non-partnership role for its lawyers.

Slaughters practice partner Paul Olney (pictured) said: “The firm has traditionally had more of an up-or-out approach, but not all of our lawyers want to be partners. The idea of retaining some senior lawyers as non-partners is nothing new, but we are in the early stages of considering whether to use the title of senior adviser and, if so, what the parameters are to such a position.

“Sometimes the senior adviser role might involve a particular focus, for example to develop our practice in a particular area or to support certain business development initiatives, but without the broader responsibilities a partner would have. But I would not expect there would be a large number of people in this position.”

The move would mark a further step for the firm in modernising its traditional career path. Earlier this year the firm brought in merit-linked pay for associates with more than 4.5 years post-qualification experience.

Slaughters made up two City associates to partner level in its promotions round this year, the same number as 2012 when it added one partner each in London and Hong Kong.