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Hogan Lovells is changing how it gives feedback to associates

In an effort to give more regular feedback to its associates, Hogan Lovells is moving away from yearly performance reviews and using a system that lets associates get input from firm superiors year-round, the firm announced Thursday.

The new program, called Pathways, will replace the 2,600-lawyer-firm’s current annual review process and give associates the chance to hone their skills through more consistent feedback, the firm said.

“We know that effective conversations and feedback are at the core of our culture and are a key component of being a successful business and a great place to work,” said Hogan Lovells CEO Steve Immelt. “Much of the legal industry focuses on the annual performance review. It’s time to break that outdated and irrelevant mold and move on to provide the information that people really need to hear throughout the year – what am I doing well, where can I grow, what is my career path. Pathways helps us fulfill our fundamental responsibility to be candid, supportive, and constructive with our people.”

The Pathways program includes a concept the firm calls “flash feedback” that requires associates to get three pieces of feedback from co-workers every four months. This component of the firm’s feedback program is designed to help associates find trends in what the firm is working on and encourage collaboration among lawyers, the National Law Journal reported.

Hogan Lovells, which has 33 lawyers in Maryland, is one of many large law firms that is scrapping the traditional annual review process to cater to younger attorneys who want more consistent performance evaluations.

The firm decided to change its performance review process after hundreds of their attorneys around the world said they weren’t getting “meaningful or timely” feedback in their annual review and that the review process was time intensive and “energy draining,” the firm said.

The firm first implemented Pathways on a trial basis at various offices around the world last year. The program has since been introduced to all offices and will extend to the firm’s business services next year.

Hogan Lovells leadership told the National Law Journal that the new feedback program will not directly influence decisions about bonuses, other compensation or partner promotions.

“Pathways is focused on growth and development, not compensation. We’ve separated the feedback process from conversations about compensation,” said Allison Friend, Hogan Lovells chief human resources officer in the Americas. “As to partnership, it doesn’t determine who is on a partnership track. However, we do talk regularly with associates in the program about what paths they want to take, including partnership.”

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