Law firms up headcount outside UK

LINKLATERS has become the latest commercial law firm to announce partner promotions, as the City’s top law firms boost foreign office numbers.

The UK’s largest law firm by revenue promoted 14 associates to the partnership rank, with the number of promotions marking a decrease on the previous year when 18 made the grade.

“These promotions highlight our continued commitment to investing in our global practices in order to enhance the breadth and depth of expertise we offer our clients,” said Linklaters senior partner David Cheyne.

Yesterday’s announcement puts Linklaters in the same bracket with its Magic Circle rivals Slaughter and May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy (A&O).

Slaughter and May promoted only two new partners to its practice, the same move it made last year, while Freshfields bucked the trend by further increasing its partnership headcount by adding 18 associates to the ranks. In 2009, Freshfields promoted 14 new partners to its business, as law firms generally took a conservative stance to promotions.

A&O promoted 18 new partners this year, two less than it did last year.

The UK’s law firms continue to heavily promote outside of their London base, reflecting a continued struggle to see business return to pre-recession levels in the City.

Linklaters promoted eight London partners, Freshfields six partners in London, while A&O made up just two new City partners.

A&O managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “Over half of the firm’s turnover continues to be generated outside the UK and two-thirds of our work is cross-border.”

The promotions come on the back of a difficult year for commercial law firms, which made a swathe of redundancies last year in a bid to cope with the downturn.

Clifford Chance is expected to make partner promotions in July.