Partner numbers at US firms’ City offices soar in last five years

Partner headcount in the top 30 international firms in London has increased by around 25 per cent since the credit crisis in 2008, while turnover has increased by an average of 8 per cent.

The research, which compares results from The Lawyer’s annual top 30 international firms in London table from 2008 and 2012 (focus, 22 April 2013), underlines the rapid expansion of US firms in London since the economic downturn, with many firms making big investments via the lateral hiring market but not necessarily seeing a sizeable increase in UK turnover.

Of the top 10 firms by revenue, the London offices of Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis have seen the biggest increase in partner numbers in the last five years. The number of partners at Latham increased 33 per cent, from 39 to 52. At Kirkland & Ellis partner numbers increased 70 per cent, from 27 to 46, with turnover growing 40 per cent to $122.8m during the same time period.

However sources interviewed by The Lawyer claim that various US firms have turned to the ‘male-dominated’ lateral hiring market as a way to bulk up in the City, subsequently struggling to get a diverse pool of candidates for the top jobs.

Women made up just 16 per cent of partners across the top 30 international firms in London last year, with the UK offices of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Edwards Wildman Palmer and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher recording the lowest proportion of female partners during 2012 (22 April 2013).

Of The Lawyer’s top 30 international firms in London listing this year, all but seven saw their UK revenues rise in 2012, with 27 firms also featuring in last year’s list. This marks a turnaround in fortunes from 2009, when 21 of the top 30 firms saw year-on-year falls in UK fee income.