Partner bust-up boom

On Monday we revealed the glorious news – for private practice lawyers at least – that hourly rates had made an astonishing bounce back, giving many in the City and beyond a rare reason to smile (see story).

We might’ve known the good news couldn’t last.

According to a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) report, the number of partnership disputes reaching the High Court Chancery division has almost doubled in the past year (see story).

In 2008 the High Court heard 54 partnership disputes. Last year that rocketed to 106. Surprise, surprise, the culprit is the economic downturn.

Of course, one of the effects of the market collapse has been a general belt-tightening at firms, with a crackdown on costs and a push across the board to keep PEP high, a trend widely covered in this year’s UK 200.

And the impact of that? As Russell Jones & Walker employment partner John Marshall puts it, “the proverbial ’tap on the shoulder’ to leave”.

Maybe the pricing bounce will take the pressure off the partnership disputes, but don’t hold your breath.