Move On Up: Fladgate
16 January 2012 | Updated: 16 January 2012 11:15 am | By Joanne Harris
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West End firm Fladgate is best known for its property and corporate practices, so it is no surprise that the focus of both its partnership promotions and lateral hires over the past few years has been these two areas.
Promotions include both associates joining the partnership and promotions within the partnership, thus skewing the figures somewhat. Fladgate declined to give a gender split for internal promotions and lateral hires, making it hard to determine how successful any effort to increase the number of female partners has been. Currently, 10 out of 47 partners are women.
The biggest year for promotions and lateral hires was 2008-09, when Fladgate made up eight lawyers and hired six. Most of the promotions and all but two of the hires were in the corporate department, while the property team saw two promotions and one hire, and the litigation department gained one partner through a hire.
A busy time
The current financial year was also significant from a promotions standpoint. Fladgate promoted three lawyers in the property department, one in corporate and two in litigation.
In total, in the six years since 2006 Fladgate has made up to partnership – or promoted within the partnership – 24 lawyers, including 10 in the corporate and 11 in the property departments. Over the same period the firm has made 19 lateral hires into the partnership. Almost a third of the current partnership – 14 out of 47 – joined the firm in the past six years as a lateral hire. Not all the laterals have been successful, and several partners hired into Fladgate since 2006 have already left for other firms.
Corporate has been the focus for lateral hiring, with 10 partners hired in this area. 2008-09 saw most growth as Fladgate bolted on corporate boutique Gordon & Co, bringing on board partner Grant Gordon. It went on to hire Halliwells corporate head Julian Lewis and Reed Smith’s UK head of tax Huw Witty, all in the same financial year. Other hires in 2008-09 included employment partner Nick Tsatsas from Michael Simpkins and property partner Adrian Wallace from Pitmans.
Fladgate continued the hiring spree in the following years. In 2009-10 its three laterals included Finers Stephens Innocent head of hotels James Fry. The following year also saw three laterals, including Harbottle & Lewis’s Lawrence Abramson.
Although Fladgate declined to give figures for partner departures it has not been immune to losses, with two or three partners leaving for other firms or moving in-house each year.
Firms that have poached partners from Fladgate include Clyde & Co legacy firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Salans, Edwin Coe and US litigation boutique Kobre & Kim. Recent departures include the firm’s head of employment Brian Palmer, who was hired from Charles Russell in 2009 but joined Sussex firm Rawlinson Butler last year.
Fladgate says it is committed to strategic growth and believes its growth aspirations cannot be met purely through internal promotions.
The firm has a merit-based remuneration structure that begins in the early years. Newly qualified solicitors are paid a generous £50,000, which increases to £55,000 over two years before remuneration moves over to a merit basis.
Factors taken into account in the firm’s remuneration structur include experience, performance, business development and the lawyer’s overall contribution. These factors are also an element in Fladgate’s route to partnership. Candidates must show their commitment to the firm along with their ability to develop a strong practice. Within the partnership there are four levels, ranging from junior equity partner and moving up to senior equity partner, although progression is not automatic.
Promotions and senior hires
Lawrence Abramson, litigation partner Abramson joined Fladgate from Harbottle & Lewis in June 2010
Richard Reuben, property partner Reuben came to Fladgate from Macfarlanes in the present financial year
Grant Gordon, corporate partner Gordon joined in May 2008 as Fladgate bolted on his corporate boutique Gordon & Co