Lawyer Pay

Retire in Your 40s? Yes, at U.K. Megafirm

Retiring at age 40-something probably isn’t a realistic goal for most lawyers. But in a move that may be viewed with envy by partners at some U.S. firms, one of Britain’s biggest and best-known law shops has announced a new retirement plan that makes this possible for some.

Prompted by the possibility of age discrimination claims under new British laws, Clifford Chance has revised its retirement policy to eliminate references to age. Instead of setting a specific age at which partners may retire, the London-based magic circle megafirm mandates a specific number of years of service. Thus, for those who made partner before 2005, it is possible to retire after 15 years as a partner there, allowing some who are still in their 40s to call it a career, according to articles today in Legal Week and the Lawyer.

The articles differ on exactly when the cutoff is for retiring from Clifford Chance under the 15-years-of-service standard; Legal Week says the option is available to those who made partner before 2005, while the Lawyer says the cutoff date for making partner is October 2005.

Those who qualify for retirement after 15 years as a partner “will receive an annuity equal to 17 percent of their final profit share for five years,” writes the Lawyer. “For those who have been a partner for 20 years or more, the payment will be equal to 23 percent of their final profit share, again paid each year for five years.”

However, there is an annual payment cap of 276,000 pounds, which amounts to about $410,000 in U.S. dollars.

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