Hogan Lovells trials new ‘continuous feedback’ system to assess lawyer performance

Global giant presses pause on lengthy annual reviews

Hogan Lovells is re-evaluating the way it assesses its lawyers’ performances by introducing a new “continuous feedback” appraisal system called ‘Pathways’.

The fresh approach — which is currently being trialled across a number of the firm’s offices, including London — “encourages associates to seek feedback on their performance from partners and colleagues through regular meetings during the year.”

In a move that could spell the end for the more traditional annual review, the new programme will see Hogan Lovells’ more experienced senior associates “play an active role” in helping develop the skills of their junior colleagues. The pilot involves approximately 500 associates and senior associates, plus 50 counsel, and runs until the end of the month.

So what triggered the appraisal rethink? Steve Immelt, Hogan Lovells’ chief executive officer, revealed that a “fresh” approach was required to ensure performance reviews were “directly relevant to the needs of our people.”

Commenting on the set-up, Susan Bright, Hogan Lovells’ UK and Africa managing partner, said:

We are creating a culture of continuous feedback on a more consistent basis around the world. This forward looking process meets the changing expectations of people joining the legal profession who are focused on getting feedback and improvement. They want to know how to do things even better next time.

Revealing some of the Pathways’ finer details, she added:

The move will see the firm drop annual appraisal grades. Instead, associates will seek out at least three pieces of feedback on different matters prior to a quarterly feedback meeting, as well as having an annual meeting to review progress and next steps.

The move comes just a week after Allen & Overy revealed a similar performance-related trial of its own. Introduced back in October, the new set-up focuses on regular feedback and dialogue to boost the development and performance of its top legal minds. The project — tested out on 500 of the magic circle giant’s staff — is due to enter its second phase later this year.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.