A&O rethinks performance management in move away from annual appraisals

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Allen & Overy (A&O) has scrapped annual appraisals for 500 staff at the firm, as it trials a new approach to performance management.

The firm started piloting a new scheme – based on regular feedback instead of formal annual appraisals – in October last year, with fee earners and business support staff across various practices in London, the Middle East and Singapore involved.

The second stage of the trial is expected to see up to 1,000 people involved across a larger number of offices and practice groups worldwide.

Global HR director Sasha Hardman (pictured) said: “We are always looking to evolve what we do to ensure that we have the best possible platforms for the development of our people. We are very pleased that the pilot has been received so positively and are using the feedback from it to enhance our approach, and look forward to extending and developing it for the second phase.”

Last year, the magic circle firm’s then newly elected leadership team, senior partner Wim Dejonghe and managing partner Andrew Ballheimer, laid out plans to overhaul A&O’s partner appraisal system.

Partners are set to be assessed on a wider range of criteria, including measurement of the origination and execution of a piece of work, mentoring provided by partners to junior lawyers, cross-referrals, and pro bono work.

The move comes after some partners said they were unhappy with the previous system during the firm’s recent management elections. They felt it did not adequately recognise the full extent of their individual contributions and instead placed too much emphasis on contribution to a specific office rather than a global practice.