Hammonds goes large with a 9 per cent partnership hike

Hammonds has made the largest proportion of promotions to the partnership this year, analysis by The Lawyer has revealed.

As first revealed on TheLawyer.com (30 April), 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.

This total is around half the number made up at Clifford Chance, however, which promoted 35. Clifford Chance now has a total of 648 partners, while Hammonds has just 211.

Overall, magic circle promotion numbers 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 accounted for 5 to 6 per cent of the total number of partners. At Freshifelds and Allen & Overy (A&O) the figure was 5.6 per cent, at Clifford Chance 5.4 per cent, and at Linklaters, which made up 28 new partners, 5.2 per cent.

Promotion rates outside the magic circle were similar, with new joiners at DLA Piper constituting 5.3 per cent of the consolidated partnership (69 out of 1,301) and 5.2 per cent at Lovells (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, of which new partners comprise just 3 per cent.

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

But at the other end of the spectrum was Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), 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 BLP promotions have fallen, but the trend coincides with the launch of the firm’s associate director alternative to partnership, to which 13 were appointed this year.

The fact that many associates at mid-tier firms such as 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 (4.9 per cent), ;while ;Dentons promoted 12 (6.6 per cent).

However, as at BLP, 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.

The Lawyer’s analysis also revealed that women are more likely to make the partnership at mid-market and silver circle firms (TheLawyer.com, 30 April).

Addleshaw Goddard made up nine this year, of whom six of were women, while Denton Wilde Sapte promoted 12, of whom five were women.

Pinsent Masons, Ashurst and Herbert Smith all made up 6 female associates, all around a third of their new partners.

Promotion prospects for female associates at the magic circle firms are poor by comparison. Linklaters and A&O both promoted 28 partners, of whom five at each firm were women, while female associates at Freshfields fared only slightly better, constituting a fifth of the 25 made up.

Clifford Chance emerged as the magic circle’s worst promoter of female lawyers, with just three women among its 35 new partners, or 8.6 per cent.

top Uk firms by partnership promotions 2008Firm No of No of female Most promoted Total no of Promotions promotions promotions practice partners as % of total areas partners

#New partners as percentage of total partnership

partnerships in brief

#Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons has promoted eight to the partnership. The South East firm has made up three partners in corporate, three in dispute resolution and two in real estate.

#Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI) has made up three partners in its round of promotions. Head of planning Jacqueline Backhaus, head of property litigation Amanda McNeil and senior member of the private client team Emily Mailer have been voted in. FSI managing partner Paul Millett said: “The fact that all three new partners are female is a testament to the inclusive environment which we have fostered at the firm over a number of years.”

#Wilsons has added three to its partnership, taking the total to 32. Andrew Roberts joins the corporate partnership; Jane Lonergan joins the commercial property partnership; and Philip Whitcomb, who joined the firm as an associate from Whitehead Vizard in April, is appointed in the estates and heritage property practice.

#Penningtons Solicitors has made up four partners – one a lateral hire. Sarah Cardew joins the corporate tax team, Peter Kidd becomes a corporate partner, James Nadin becomes a commercial property partner, and Peter Massey joins the construction partnership from construction consultancy Amec.