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The problems with assessing overall partner contribution

By Ian Jeffery, Managing Partner, Lewis Silkin

11 March 2013

It must be partner appraisal time again because there seem to be a lot of snowflakes on my desk.

Let me explain. At Lewis Silkin, we use a partner appraisal framework which we refer to as the ‘snowflake’. It has six limbs, representing the six areas of contribution that we look for from our partners. The level of achievement of each partner against each limb is plotted on a snowflake-shaped graph. Since we look for a different balance of contribution from each partner, according to his or her particular skills and the needs of the business, each snowflake tends to look different from the others.

This may be a little whimsical for some firms, but by and large the system works well for us at the conceptual level, with broad agreement about the nature of the six roles and the fact that partners should play to their strengths. It also gives a shared language within the...

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