Promotions on the wane – particularly in the UK

The latest firms to announce their partner promotions have all made up fewer than last year.

Linklaters has promoted 14, eight of whom are based in the UK.

Not only is this less than last year’s total of 18, but it also leaves it trailing Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which promoted 18 apiece.

Corporate boutique Macfarlanes made up just one partner this year, pensions lawyer Camilla Barry. This is even fewer than last year’s two. Senior partner Charles Martin denies that the firm’s associates might become disillusioned by a lack of prospects.

“Our associates understand that this is a more challenging environment and that their prospects here are as good as they are anywhere,” he states.

With Barry’s promotion, the pensions practice now has three partners out of a firmwide total of 75.

Denton Wilde Sapte and Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) did not buck the recent trend in slimming down total promotions. Dentons promoted two compared with six last year, as did WFW, contrasting with the five who were­promoted in 2009.

There is an increasing trend at both these firms, which share a wide network of global offices and strong energy and infrastructure practices, towards making lawyers up abroad.

Last year four of the six new Dentons partners were based overseas, while this year both promotions – Ian McGrath in Muscat (energy and infrastructure) and Victoria Simonova in Almaty (energy and infrastructure) – were abroad.

Middle East-based partner James Dallas says this reflects a “deliberate move to increase the amount of work overseas” and that “a lot of work in London has a direct origin outside the UK”. He adds that both the Muscat and Almaty offices are driven largely by energy work. Muscat-based McGrath counts Oman Refineries and Petrochemicals Company among his clients.

In 2009, as with this year, WFW only promoted abroad.

Last year the promotions were in Europe and Singapore; this year they came in Athens (project finance and renewables specialist Marisetta Marcopoulou) and Bangkok (litigator Alan Polivnick).

Macfarlanes’ one and only

Camilla Barry started her professional life as a barrister, but says she was attracted to becoming apensions solicitor because of the “mixture of employment and trusts law”. She joined Macfarlanes from CMS Cameron McKenna in 2007 as an associate. “I thought I’d have better prospects,” she reveals.

Senior partner Charles Martin describes her as “an outstanding pensions lawyer with a very practical
approach to what she does”.

Barry tells The Lawyer : “What I like is that the clients are very demanding about getting robust advice
on borderline areas and wanting to achieve the results they need.”

Her practice focuses principally on a corporate client base, sometimes advising private equity houses
from overseas on buying and selling in the UK. However, a current instruction sees her retained by the
trustees of the pension scheme of another (unnamed) law firm.