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Husch Blackwell demotes 25 partners

Husch Blackwell demoted 25 partners after the firm took a look at its requirements for equity partners, the firm’s incoming chairman confirmed Monday.

Maurice Watson said in a statement that the partners were “reclassified” as fixed-income, or non-equity, partners. As the name implies, fixed-income partners at law firms typically get the majority of their compensation as a fixed salary. Equity partners share in a firm’s profits and may have greater voting rights on issues such as directing a firm’s finances.

“A year ago, our firm determined that we needed to re-examine the criteria for equity partner, something that had not been evaluated since our firms merged four years ago,” Watson said in a statement emailed by a spokeswoman for the firm. “Following an industry analysis, we determined that our criteria were lower than peer firms.”

Watson did not include details on the criteria for equity partners.

“In addition, several fixed income partners achieved equity status,” Watson said. “We continue to be focused on the long-term growth of Husch Blackwell, which includes ensuring that our compensation plan is competitive relative to other firms our size.”

St. Louis-based Husch & Eppenberger and Kansas City-based Blackwell Sanders merged in 2008, creating a firm with dual headquarters and more than 600 attorneys. Husch Blackwell had about 165 equity partners in 2010, according to Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s most recent MOney 20 report. The figure represents full-time equivalents, which take into account how long an attorney has been at a law firm.

Husch Blackwell had revenue of $279 million in 2010, according to the latest available figure from the MOney 20.

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