A&O leads the expansion pack in Top 100 survey

ALLEN & Overy posted the fastest expansion of any UK firm in the past year, according to The Lawyer's 1998 Top 100 survey, taking on an extraordinary 300 extra fee earners.

In doing so the firm overtook Linklaters to become the UK's fourth-largest firm. Reasons for the rise include A&O's merger with 65-lawyer Italian firm Brosio Casati e Associati in January and a series of lateral hires.

Other firms taking on more than 100 extra fee earners in the past year include Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Freshfields, Dibb Lupton Alsop and Simmons & Simmons.

Eversheds' merger with the majority of Frere Cholmeley Bischoff will consolidate its position as the second largest UK firm after Clifford Chance.

At a time when most firms have boosted their numbers only Slaughter and May, Nabarro Nathanson and Shoosmiths & Harrison, of the top 20 firms, have fewer fee earners than they did in last year's Top 100.