The City’s high-paying corporate law firms have more young partners than those working in any other sector of the legal business, new research from legal sector accountancy firm Hazelwoods shows.
Almost two fifths (38 per cent) of partners at City of London firms are now under the age of 44, as young lawyers are increasingly being drawn in by the huge pay-outs available to those at the top.
On average, 30 per cent of law firm partners, working across all sectors of the legal business, are under the age of 44, the Hazelwoods research shows.
Lawyers working in the highest paid areas of the legal sector are also increasingly retiring from their positions early, to enjoy the bumper pay-outs given to those at the top of City firms. This in turn creates greater opportunity for those rising up the ranks in corporate law.
The research comes as London’s elite Magic Circle law firms this year promoted a record number of lawyers to partner level in the midst of the ongoing battle for talent in the legal sector.
Ian Johnson, associate partner at Hazelwoods, said that while “competition to get to partnership can be intense… those who get there often enjoy a share of some of the biggest profits in the profession,” allowing them to build up wealth quickly and retire.
Meanwhile, criminal law firms had the fewest young partners, with just 24 per cent of criminal law firm partners below the age of 44.
The relative lack of young partners in the low-paid criminal sector comes amid a scarcity of young lawyers choosing to specialise in criminal law.
“A lot of ambitious young lawyers choose to go where they will get the best opportunities,” Johnson said. “The chances of making partner and the billing levels both tend to be higher in corporate and financial work than in areas like criminal law.”
“That has left some criminal law firms wondering what the next generation of the partnership looks like. Some do not have anyone who is ready to step up. Another issue is that some younger lawyers today don’t see joining the partnership as automatically being part of their career plans.”