South-west firm Stephens Scown LLP is to operate under a John Lewis-style shared-ownership model, which will see receptionists receiving the same bonus as fee-earners, it revealed today. 

According to Stephens Scown, it is the largest firm to have implemented such a scheme. 

Under the scheme, profits over a minimum threshold will go into a pool, half of which will be shared out equally among all participating staff members while the other half will be retained by the firm.

Stephens Scown said that the scheme is likely to increase the average bonus for staff from around £1,300 last year to more than £2,000 this year. The model will begin at the start of May, but will apply for bonuses for the current financial year ending April 2016.

The firm set up the scheme by creating a new company, Stephens Scown Limited, which operates as a member of the partnership and is entitled to share profits equal to the bonus pot. 

Stephens Scown said it had agreed the ownership model with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and tax authorities, and said this could open the way for other partnerships and professional services firms to follow suit.

It pointed out that other firms, such as Mishcon de Reya had already signalled an interest in this type of model.

Managing partner Robert Camp (pictured) said: ‘No matter what role someone has, we are all part of the same team and I wanted part of everyone’s remuneration to come from an equal sharing of profits. 

‘Everyone in the firm is totally behind this – the partners included. When I started consulting on the model three years ago, the really strong feedback was that the bonus should be shared equally with no differentiations according to grade or seniority.’

He added: ‘I believe it will have a tremendously positive impact on the firm. Back-office support staff in particular will feel much more involved as we will all be working towards the same goal.’

Stephens Scown has more than 300 staff, including 50 partners, and a turnover of £17m. It has offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. 

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