At the recent Georgetown Law Conference on the evolution of law firms, a panelist from Clifford Chance (Sally Fiona King) explained that the firm now requires associates who are considered for partnership to have passed one of two requirements. Either they have worked for significant amounts of time in another Clifford Chance office or they have succeeded at a secondment to a client of at least six months, if not a year or more.
What a change the secondment option (actually, a requirement choice) will bring about if many law firms institute that policy! Heretofore, law departments drove secondments, primarily as a way to fill a temporary hole in their ranks, but increasingly as a cost-reduction method. In future, if many law firms clamor to place their partnership-track associates inside for extended periods, the incidence of secondment will jump and the costs to legal departments will plummet.