Leading UK firms see 20 per cent rise in partner promos

Partner promotions at the top UK firms have gone up virtually across the board, with only one firm – Bird & Bird – seeing its promotion numbers drop.

With more than half of the top 30 firms already having announced this year’s promotions, 20 per cent more associates have been made up than during last year’s round.

The numbers are not as dramatic domestically, with total promotions in the UK offices rising by only 11 per cent.

The trend is reflected most clearly at Linklaters, where the firm promoted four more lawyers to partnership than in 2010 – the figure jumping from 14 to 18. However, only a third of the new partners are based in the City, while more than half last year were from London.

Magic circle rivals Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer both saw numbers go up, though not to the same extent. Freshfields promoted 20 new partners this time against 18 in 2010, while A&O went from 18 to 21.

Slaughter and May made up more partners than in any year since 2007, with its five new partners more than doubling last year’s tally of two.

Total promotions among top firms have been in decline since 2008. Although the numbers are yet to reach pre-recessionary levels, the 2011 promotion round should be a boon to associates with ambitions to make partner.

Peter Martyr
Peter Martyr

However, Norton Rose chief executive Peter Martyr, who saw his firm promote 15 – up from 11 last year – said that firms should look beyond a 12-month snapshot of the market when deciding on promotions.

“We try quite hard to take a medium and long-term view,” he commented. “We don’t plan on a one-year basis, but on a two or three-year basis. We think it’s wrong to put the brakes on, slam the accelerator and then put the breaks on again.”

Norton Rose also had one of the highest percentages of female partners made up, with seven of the 15 new additions to the partnership being female. Only Squire Sanders & Dempsey, with eight out of 18, came close to matching that figure.

Martyr added: “We’ve been more focused on it and have tried hard to understand the workforce. We’re not trying to select on a positive discrimination basis, but this is the way that it’s worked out, which is good.”

Nabarro made up five partners, with two of those women. Both Bird & Bird’s new partners were also female.

Promotions table

Firm Total promotions 2011 Total promotions 2010 UK promotions 2011 UK promotions 2010
Linklaters 18 14 6 8
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 20 18 9 6
Allen & Overy 21 18 6 2
DLA Piper 53 41 12 3
Hogan Lovells* 36 21 7 5
Slaugher and May 5 2 5 1
Eversheds 22 19 12 8
Norton Rose 15 11 4 4
Ashurst 12 11 3 6
Pinsent Masons 5 4 4 4
Bird & Bird 2 10 2 1
Berwin Leighton Paisner 13 8 9 7
Addleshaw Goddard 6 7 6 7
SNR Denton** 8 2 7 0
Squire Sanders Hammonds*** 18 8 5 6
Nabarro 5 3 5 3

*2010 figures from legacy firm Lovells
**2010 figures from legacy firm Denton Wilde Sapte
***2010 figures from legacy firm Hammonds

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Thelawyermag