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These days it’s all about global growth. Right? Not according to our feature today.
These days it’s all about global growth. Right? Not according to our feature today, which unpicks three years’ worth of partnership promotions at some of the largest firms in the UK, tracking the focus of investment.
Overseas? Not really, at least when it comes to new partnership blood. For our sample group of 15 firms – which includes several such as DLA Piper, Eversheds and Pinsent Masons that have chunky international operations alongside UK-dominated rivals such as Irwin Mitchell and DWF – the UK is where most of the action is.
In 2012 and 2013, a third of all new partners in our sample of 15 firms were made up overseas. Last year just 24 per cent of partnership promotions were abroad.
Take Eversheds. In terms of partnership promotions its focus has gradually moved away from international, with 16 non-UK promotions in 2012, 12 last year and just seven in 2014.
DLA Piper is the most international of our bunch, but even here there is evidence of a shift. Notably, as we report, the firm’s total Australian partnership has been shrinking, with 135 at the time of the full integration of DLA Piper Phillips Fox in May 2011, but only around 100 at the end of last year – a drop of some 25 per cent.
In the UK, while London remains dominant in terms of sheer numbers, the race to the regions is clear. In recent years the trend has been to add muscle outside London, most notably through the launch of lower cost support centres in cities such as Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester, but also through an increasing emphasis on regional office networks. This is clear from our three-year numbers.
Aside from London, Manchester and Birmingham are the most favoured destinations for new partners. Indeed, there was a spike in regional promotions last year, when the London-centric emphasis shifted.
North of the border the partnership promotions data highlights another trend – the slowdown in much of the Scottish market. There are no Scotland-headquartered firms in our UK nationals sample, which obviously skews the results, but several of these firms have targeted Scotland recently with mergers and office openings.
Yet last year Aberdeen saw no promotions at all, while Edinburgh barely scraped into the UK top 10, with just four.