Exclusive: CMS overhauls work allocation for corporate associates

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CMS Cameron McKenna is piloting a new system of allocating work to its associates in a bid to increase efficiency when doling out mandates.

Around 100 associates in the firm’s UK corporate group are subject to the pilot.

It follows similar moves by both Ashurst and Hogan Lovells last year, which introduced “blind allocation” of work in their corporate departments to boost fairness.

CMS said the scheme has been designed to allocate work more efficiently and reduce the time it takes partners to distribute work.

Currently CMS partners hand out work to associates directly. The new system will require partners to use a dedicated resource manager employed by consultancy firm Mason & Cook to distribute all pieces of work.

Associates are required to fill out a skills matrix regarding their strengths, areas they wish to develop, and the type of work that they want to carry out. The resource manager then uses this information to distribute work among the associates when a mandate comes in.

CMS UK head of corporate Charles Currier told The Lawyer: “The resource manager allocates work for the whole UK team, so that’s London and our three offices in Scotland.

“Because we’re a single team the plan is to have much more fungibility of resource and therefore to have associates in Scotland being able to work on transactions run by partners in London and vice versa.”

Sources close to the firm said associates were annoyed work was now being moved out of the capital to lawyers in the firm’s regional offices.

Should the new work allocation system prove successful CMS will roll it out across the whole of its UK business and hire a full-time resource manager. The pilot launched in late June and will run for six months.

Last year Ashurst piloted a “blind allocation” programmed designed to ensure that work given to associates was handed out fairly. Under the scheme resource management consultant Dave Cook was put in charge of the firm’s work allocation, which is distributed based on an associate’s previous work rather than their prior relationships with partners.

Ashurst’s trial was carried out within its corporate department and at the time the firm’s global corporate co-head Simon Beddow said that he expected the initiative to improve gender and social equality.

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