Up or Out definition

Up or out is a policy in some organisations where employees have a set period of time in which to achieve a certain rank or level of progression within the business. If they don’t do so, they are required by contract to leave.

Up or out policies are particularly common in law firms, where associates or trainees have a specific amount of time to achieve the rank of partner. This principle forms part of the Cravath System, developed by law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore in the 1800s, which outlines strategic management guidelines for law firms.

In the United States, professors on tenure tracks must progress from assistant professors to associate professors within four to eight years. Beyond this, there are no further requirements as they have now achieved tenured status.

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