As partnership promotions go, three in London is pretty paltry, even for a US firm. So news that Reed Smith Richards Butler has made a trio of UK promotions from a worldwide total of 31 (www.thelawyer.com, 7 December) is sure to raise a few eyebrows, not least among the firm’s associates.
According to London managing partner Richard Swinburn, the firm, formed by a merger between US firm Reed Smith and the UK’s Richards Butler, does not look at promotions on an office-by-office basis, looking instead to fill practice area gaps according to global need.
Try telling that to a City-based associate. A few years ago Richards Butler associates had little prospect of reaching partnership, with no promotions at all in 2004-05. By 2006-07, however, things had turned around, with the firm making up a total of seven. Even pre-merger Reed Smith, which was relatively small in the UK, made up three partners in 2006 and four in 2005.
With 84 per cent of this year’s promotions being handed to US-based associates, those in London could be forgiven for fearing a return to the bad old days.