Linklaters brings forward new partner election process as it gears up to set new strategy

Linklaters

Linklaters has brought forward its annual new partner promotion process, so that new partners will be able to attend its partner conference for the first time.

The firm has overhauled the process so that partners now vote on the promotions electronically ahead of the March meeting, enabling those set to join the partnership to attend as partner-elects.

The move, which comes as management prepares to draw up the firm’s new strategy, replaces the previous system whereby new partners were voted on at the conference, therefore freeing up more time for discussion.

According to partners, the event, which will be held next weekend in Monte Carlo, is expected to see managing partner Gideon Moore and senior partner Charlie Jacobs discuss a host of issues, from the US to clients, as part of discussions on the firm’s future plans.

There have already been months of partnership soundings on the strategy, with Moore leading a wide-ranging consultation exercise among staff. This has seen partners quizzed on a broad spectrum of issues including Linklaters’ market position, clients and business development, US coverage, people and technology, and artificial intelligence.

Commenting on the decision to bring the new partner elections forward, one partner said: “Historically, we used to speak about the candidates for a number of hours – it was the most important part of the conference, and it really mattered.”

The increasing size and international nature of the firm has made it more difficult to have a discussion about the relative merits of prospective partners, according to others.

A London partner said: “If you are in a smaller partnership you can do it, but we are 450 partners. It is hard to sensibly discuss a German tax partner and question the judgement of the senior partner, the managing partner, the head of the division and the partnership election committee.”

The partner said the previous way of doing things had become “a bit of a waste of time” and that it will be much better to have the new partners at the conference “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”.

Partners are expected to be presented with a range of ideas from the sounding exercise at the conference, with a view to formulating a new strategy.

The firm’s last annual conference was dominated by the election of new senior partner Jacobs, while at its one-day London conference in October, lockstep reform was the key topic, with partners voting through a package of changes to its remuneration structure.

Partners expect this conference to be less controversial and a chance for the firm’s management to build consensus within the partnership.

One partner said: “Compared to last year when lockstep was the main topic of discussion, there is nothing that has people too worked up.” The partner added: “Last year there was a lot of navel gazing, but this conference will be much more outwardly focused on clients and developing business, and that is a good thing.”