Partner promotions down across the UK top 30

A fuller picture is emerging of the next generation of partners at UK firms, with data compiled by The Lawyer showing an overwhelming trend at the top 30 UK firms of shrinking its promotion numbers this year.

Eighty per cent of the top 30 UK firms have now announced new partners, with 19 out of this group of 24 having experienced a drop in the total number promotions.

At some firms the total number of partners promoted this year is as much as 71 per cent lower than in 2008. Bird & Bird, for example, has seen a drop in promotions from 14 in 2008 to just four this year.

Hammonds, which last year was the UK’s biggest promoter in terms of the number of new joiners expressed as a proportion of its total partnership, promoted 68 per cent less this year – six rather than its 2008 total of 19.

With the exception of Clifford Chance, which has yet to announce new promotions as a result of delays caused by its internal restructuring, the magic circle firms all made far fewer promotions this year than last. Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy made up a total of 52 partners between them this year compared with 81 in 2008 – an overall drop of 56 per cent.

Only Beachcroft, Clyde & Co, CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds and Lovells have increased the number of partner promotions at their respective firms this year, compared with 2008.

However, the jump in total number of partners at Camerons from 11 in 2008 to 17 this year follows the firm having carried out an overhaul of its partnership structure, which has seen it add an extra junior salaried rank.

See tomorrow and Friday for ongoing analysis of the trends in promotions at the largest 30 UK firms.