Hammonds is number one associate promoter

Hammonds is the top UK firm with the largest proportion of new joiners to the partnership this year, analysis by The Lawyer has revealed.

The national firm made up 19 this year, 9 per cent of its total number of partners and the largest number it has ever made up. See story.

This total figure is about half the number made up at Clifford Chance, which promoted 35, but while the magic circle firm now has 648 partners, Hammonds has just 211.

Overall magic circle additions to the partnership were conservative, with the fall at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters suggesting that the credit crunch is encouraging caution.

Promotions to the partnership at the four firms made up 5-6 per cent of the total number of partners. New partners at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy comprise 5.6 per cent of the total partnership, the 35 partners made up at Clifford Chance constitute 5.4 per cent of the partnership, and Linklaters made up 28, or 5.2 per cent, of its 540 partners.

Promotion rates among the next tier of firms were of a similar proportion, with new joiners at DLA Piper constituting 5.3 per cent of the consolidated partnership – or 69 out of 1,301 – and 5.2 per cent at Lovells, or 18 out of 347.

Slaughter and May was particularly unadventurous, making up just four associates, the lowest number in two years, bringing the overall total to 132. New partners at the firm comprised just 3 per cent of the total partnership.

The highest rate of growth among the top 10 was at Herbert Smith, which made up 18 out of a total of 245 partners. New additions there form 7.3 per cent of the total.

But at the other end of the spectrum was Berwin Leighton Paisner, which made up just five to a group now totalling 180 partners, representing 2.8 per cent of the total. This is the second year that the firm has experienced a decline in the total number of internal promotions.

However, this also coincided with the launch of its associate director role, an alternative to partnership. This year the firm made up 13 to that role. The fact that many associates at mid-tier firms like BLP are calling for non-partnership opportunities is reflected at some of BLP’s competitors.

Addleshaw Goddard and Denton Wilde Sapte, which rank similarly in terms of both turnover and total number of partners (Addleshaws has 185 partners and Dentons 181) both saw modest rates of promotion to the partnership. Addleshaws promoted nine (or 4.9 per cent of its total partnership), while Dentons promoted 12 (6.6 per cent of its total partnership).

However, in both cases this coincides with the launch of alternative career progression paths. Addleshaws promoted 10 to the role of legal director this year and Dentons made up its first-ever managing associates in 2008.