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Law firm launches ‘expel your partner’ app

'If you've got non-performing partners, you've got to tackle them' 

1 April 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

A new smartphone app has been launched today to enable law firms to expel underperforming partners with a simple 'swipe'.

Firms can use the free app to bypass the potentially lengthy legal and expensive process of member expulsion, Chester law firm Aaron & Partners has said.

Suggested methods of expulsion include secondment to the Bermuda Triangle office, alien abduction and entering the partner as the firm's representative in a tiger wrestling championship.

"The functionality allows disgruntled partners to upload a photo of the partner to be expelled, and with a simple swipe of the screen that individual is out of the picture - so to speak," said head of the partnership law team Mark Briegal, who conceived of the app.

"The app also allows the user to decide between a variety of interesting, exciting and gratuitously absurd means of expulsion."

A serious message

The app, which launches on April Fool's Day, serves as an important reminder of the need for effective performance management of partners.

"We had a bit of fun with it, but the message is very serious - if you've got non-performing partners, you've got to tackle them," said Briegal.

"You employ staff and you know early on when you've employed someone whether you've made a mistake and that person isn't working out. And it isn't an easy decision, but you're better off saying 'actually, this person isn't working out, it would be better if they went' rather than leaving them in the post a bit long, they get entrenched, they begin to get rights and the whole thing gets more tricky.

"It also becomes harder to tackle this kind of performance when they've been getting away with it for years."

Briegal continued: "I think currently, with things being tough in the market, partners are less willing to carry people they perceive as passengers. And also, given the change in the market we are seeing, law firms need a different skill set among their partners.

"If people aren't willing to change, then there needs to be a means of exiting them. And there's no app, so what have you got?"

Disclaimers and disrepute

Briegal said the app has not been released on the app stores, nor does the firm currently have plans to do so.

"If we have enough interest we'll maybe get the app made up, but the trouble is we'd end up with a lot of people in here busy writing disclaimers for months - you know what lawyers are like!

"Also, the SRA aren't famed for their sense of humour… they might say you've got the whole issue of bringing the profession into disrepute!"

The challenge, said Briegal, will be devising a better app for this time next year.

"We've got a serious point to make, but we wanted to do it in a slightly fun way for April Fool's Day. The only thing we need to work out is what to do next year - it depends on how creative we are!"




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