Promotions up a third at UK law firms

Elizabeth Fournier
PARTNER promotions at the UK’s top 50 law firms have risen by almost a third compared to last year, according to research by Legal Week magazine.

The figures show an upturn in confidence throughout the Magic Circle firms and beyond, with recent financial results supporting the return to form.

Across the top 10 UK firms by revenue (see below), there have been a total of 226 partner promotions this year, compared to 184 in 2010.

The latest numbers are a stark contrast to those released during the recession, with promotions to law firm partnerships falling by a third between 2008 and 2009.

Among the 50 firms listed, 39 per cent of promotions were in London, with 191 partners promoted in the City offices of UK firms.

Of the top ten, Fleet Street-based Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer made the most London promotions, with nine of its 20 new partners based in the City.

DLA Piper – the largest law firm in the world by number of lawyers – advanced 53 to its partnership worldwide, though just five are Londonbased.

But the promotion of female lawyers to partner stayed at a similar level to last year, with just two firms in the top 10 – Clifford Chance and Eversheds – making up more than 30 per cent of their partner round with female candidates.

Promotions in the Asian offices of UK firms were particularly numerous, as firms continue to grow their presence in financial centres such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Clifford Chance for example, the UK’s biggest law firm by revenue, made more than 50 per cent of its promotions in its Asia offices.

Just six firms in the top 50 – and none in the top 10 – made fewer promotions than last year.