Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Fieldfisher, Withers and RPC have joined a growing group of UK top 50 law firms looking to change the way they appraise their fee earners and staff.
In recent months, a number of leading firms have unveiled significant changes to the way they assess performance, with Linklaters set to drop both individual financial targets and annual performance reviews for partners, and Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells both moving away from formal annual assessments in favour of ongoing – or ‘continuous’ – feedback.
Others within the UK top 50 now look set to follow suit. BLP confirmed to Legal Week that it is reviewing its annual appraisal process, and is canvassing staff on potential changes. A spokesperson said: “In recent years we have refined the annual appraisal process to focus more on career development, which has been well received. We acknowledge that there is still some room for improvement, and have instigated focus groups to gather further feedback.”
Elsewhere, Fieldfisher is also considering dropping annual appraisals, with a spokesperson saying: “The dialogue that we are having with our partners and staff shows that there is an increasing appetite for developmental feedback and more regular ‘touch points’ across all levels of staff, whether fee earner, business services or secretary.
“We have a dedicated project team in place that is actively working on how we can create a more rounded real-time feedback culture, and we are actively considering the role and relevance of the annual appraisal in supporting that.”
RPC is also reviewing its partner target model, but has no concrete plans yet. The firm dropped annual appraisals and performance ratings for everyone in the firm in July last year, replacing these with regular, more informal discussions on a quarterly basis. Withers also confirmed that it is currently reviewing its annual appraisal process.
Other firms to have made similar changes in recent months include Baker McKenzie. The global firm dropped annual appraisals and performance ratings for all fee earners and staff at the end of the 2016-17 financial year, replacing them with more regular feedback on performance throughout the year.