Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has told its partners that individual cross-selling efforts will influence their pay following the newly merged firm’s shift to a merit-based pay structure.
Partners attending the combined firm’s first-ever partner conference in Florida earlier this month were told that BCLP’s remuneration committee will take into account individual partner’s contributions to cross-selling efforts when calculating their earnings.
The ramped up expectations around referrals are part of the new firm’s drive to boost integration between the U.K. and U.S. arms of its business.
“Both parties have realised they have great clients, but management spent a lot of time talking about how we are being remunerated like we are to encourage collaboration and cross selling,” said one unnamed partner who attended the conference. ”It was really drummed in that, being one firm, we have a huge market advantage and that hunting in packs is going to be key.”
As part of the union between both firms agreed upon earlier this year, partners at legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner dropped the U.K. firm’s modified lockstep compensation structure to shift towards a system that sees all BCLP partners paid on a hybrid merit-based platform more closely aligned to that of legacy Bryan Cave.
Under the new system, BCLP partners are told their projected earnings at the beginning of the financial year, with drawings then paid out over the following 12-month period. Since the merger between both firms went live in April, around 220 new business opportunities have been created through the sharing of clients and work between both firms. These range from direct referrals to opportunities to pitch to existing clients.
“Partners are very personal with clients at both firms so improving the cross-selling element was talked about a lot,” said another unnamed BCLP partner, who requested anonymity when discussing firm matters. “There was huge emphasis on not just reverting back to being two separate firms and how the focus on being one firm during the merger talks was all part of that.”
As part of the transition to the new payment system, legacy BLP partners will be paid using BLP’s lockstep system for the eight-month period running from May 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017. Profit shares will be paid out during the course of 2018, in addition to projected drawings for the merged firm, meaning that partners will effectively receive pay for two separate financial years at the same time.
“We genuinely believe that the service you get as a client is more seamless, efficient and valuable if you institutionalize that we are one team, one firm, one culture, one profit pool mantra,” BCLP co-chair Lisa Mayhew told Legal Week in April when the combination between BLP and Bryan Cave went live. “If you have that structure, you blow out the barriers of providing services to a client.”
BCLP, which earlier this week announced plans to divest its controlling stake in flexible lawyering service Lawyers on Demand, publicly eschewed adopting a Swiss verein structure with separate partner profit pools when forging its trans-Atlantic merger.
“The spirit and output of the conference was consistent with our goal to become the most integrated and connected global law firm in the best interests of clients,” said a media representative for the combined 1,600-lawyer firm in a statement.