The Chinese legal profession is young — the oldest private firms date back less than 20 years — but it is already confronting an age-old problem: how to balance the prerogatives of established senior partners while encouraging the next generation of firm leaders.

“The lockstep model provides senior partners with a sense of recognition and security even though the young partners are the ones that are doing the bulk of the work,” complains one first-year partner at Beijing-based King & Wood, one of China’s largest and most well-known firms.

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