Recent partner defections—combined with aggressive lateral hiring by ambitious rival firms—have reignited a familiar debate: Will lockstep partner compensation at some of the industry’s most elite law firms become a relic of the past?

Partner exits from Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Debevoise & Plimpton in the past two years have raised fresh questions about the sustainability of the lockstep system, a rigid compensation regime based on seniority rather than a partner’s revenue stream.

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