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This week saw the publication of two great literary masterpieces.

In case you are not au fait with the latest trends we’re referring to The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2009, together with that budding Pulitzer Prize winner, none other of course than Allen & Overy’s Annual Review.

While The Lawyer’s tour de force is packed full of groundbreaking data, insightful analysis and provocative commentary, A&O’s latest page-turner also contains the saucy little detail that the highest paid earner at the firm last year took home £2.3m (see story).

That’s a staggering extra million quid more than plateau partners and was shelled out to an exiting partner.

By fault or by design, A&O declines to mention the name of said partner.

We do know, however, that the firm went beyond the confines of its lockstep to hire derivatives ace Dan Cunningham in 2001.

At the time a memo was sent out to partners proposing that he be paid above the top of equity, together with a 15 per cent interest in a proposed new derivatives venture to compensate him “for the shortfall in annual earnings” he would suffer by leaving his then firm Cravath Swaine & Moore.

But in the tragic denouement to this tale, Cunningham subsequently rode off into the sunset with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges.

But perhaps, in the tradition of great masterpieces, not everything is as it seems. Maybe Cunningham is just a red herring. Some 37 full equity partners left the firm as a result of a restructuring, after all, while others may have left for other reasons.

Whoever this mysterious individual is, the firm’s 335 full continuing partners would have seen the profit pool reduced as a result of that person’s exit from the firm.

Post your suggestions as to the true identity of the £2.3m partner here and create your own adventure.


Also on today: what’s behind the torrent of lateral hires; Clyde & Co banks on Libya; and everything you ever wanted to know about Canada.