28 Apr 2020

Ashurst puts partner promotions on hold in response to Covid-19

International firm goes out on a limb by putting back promotions after raft of firms press ahead with theirs

Picture of a deserted London street

A deserted City of London street under lockdown Shutterstock

Ashurst has delayed its partner promotion round until later in the year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in a move that sets it apart from many of its UK rivals which have already unveiled their new partners.

The firm confirmed today that it had made the ‘difficult decision’ to defer the promotions — which would have been due on 1 May — as part of its ‘Stronger Together’ programme in response to the crisis, which it unveiled on 16 April

“We have an outstanding group of future partners and we want to ensure they are set up for success in relation to this next important step in their careers,” said a spokesperson. 

“We continue to monitor global market developments and look forward to celebrating the achievements of our new partners when we have a clearer understanding of ongoing market movements and their longer-term impacts on our business."

The decision puts it out on a limb when compared to the host of UK rivals that have pressed ahead with the promotions despite taking a range of other measures to shore up their finances in the face of the pandemic.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and CMS are among the firms to have already announced their new partners, with most firms recording a reduction in the number of promotions compared to last year.

The most likely date for the delayed promotion round is 1 November, when deferred associate salary reviews are slated to take place and a second tranche of delayed associate bonus payments are due.

Also part of the programme is a part-time working regime, which comes into force on 1 May, when most staff will be asked to reduce their hours by 20% for a three-month period although associates in the busiest areas may be asked to work full-time.

Partner distributions are also being reduced by 20% for the next six months.

Further reading on the Covid-19 pandemic

Under lockdown socialising between international colleagues has increased — Colin Passmore outlines the measures Simmons & Simmons has been taking to promote staff wellbeing during the Covid-19 crisis

After Covid-19 lockdown will virtual arbitrations become the new normal? — Michela D'Avino and Bahaa Ezzelarab argue that remote arbitration hearings should be carefully considered as an option to avoid costly delays

A question of timing: the different responses of US and UK elite law firms to Covid-19 — Looming decisions over associate pay and bonuses are a factor in the timing of UK law firm Coronavirus measures

Above all, this crisis too will pass — Rob Millard foresees large law firm mergers and accelerated digitisation in the wake of Covid-19

'It is about being proactive and decisive' — Norton Rose Fulbright EMEA managing partner Peter Scott on the thinking behind the firm's flexible working scheme

General counsel braced for six-month shock to their businesses, survey finds — MoFo poll of 110 GCs finds them making unprecedented decisions as HR issues dominate

'Now is the time for law firms to deliver on their stated values' — Consultant Tony Williams advises law firm leaders to avoid knee jerk decisions and go into communication overdrive during the Covid-19 crisis

Unprecedented response to Covid-19 is 'testament to legal profession's resilience — Stewart Salwin is impressed by how quickly the Arizona courts have adapted to the coronavirus crisis

Staff welfare, supply chain and privacy: the coronavirus-related issues keeping GCs awake at night  — Linklaters, Baker McKenzie and Ropes & Gray have published the most sought-after briefings, according to Lexology

'I have realised how powerful technology now is': an Italian lawyer's take on Covid-19 — The lockdown is forcing Italians to embrace digitisation - and that even includes its public officials, writes Gabriella Geatti

Coronavirus risk may be unprecedented, but the fundamental principles of crisis response still apply — Crisis PR specialist Bethaney Durkin advises law firms impacted by the coronavirus to act quickly while avoiding a kneejerk response