The Lawyer UK 200 Rank26

Macfarlanes is a fully paid-up member of the silver circle, distinguished by high-end corporate work, a reluctance to expand internationally (it remains single-site, with one office off Chancery Lane) and very high profits per equity partner. For years it also maintained a stuffy, blue-blood image – a Slaughter and May in miniature, if you like. Macfarlanes’ management tends to be stable, with managing and senior partners serving multiple terms. Roger Formby and Vanni Treves ran the firm during the 1990s.

Macfarlanes is a fully paid-up member of the silver circle, distinguished by high-end corporate work, a reluctance to expand internationally (it remains single-site, with one office off Chancery Lane) and very high profits per equity partner. For years it also maintained a stuffy, blue-blood image – a Slaughter and May in miniature, if you like.

Macfarlanes’ management tends to be stable, with managing and senior partners serving multiple terms. Roger Formby and Vanni Treves ran the firm during the 1990s. Senior partner Treves’ name in particular became almost synonymous with Macfarlanes and he was widely known for his directorships, including the chairmanship of Channel 4.

Despite the firm’s single-site ethos it did actually open up in Tokyo in 1992, but closed down five years later after partner Julian Howard completed his five-year stint there and no other partner could be found to take his place.

Paul Phippen and Robert Sutton replaced Formby and Treves in 1999 – not elected to their roles but emerging as names in a lengthy consultation exercise with every partner. During the years that followed Macfarlanes rode high on the private equity boom.

Instead of building a network of offices spanning the globe, Macfarlanes adopted what it took to calling “the international alliance of the unaligned” – a loose network of high-quality independent firms with non-exclusive referral arrangements.

Simon and Charles Martin took over in 2008 at a difficult moment for the firm. Post-recession, profits were waning: in 2009-10, Macfarlanes’ average PEP had dropped to £710,000, a far cry from the seven-figure digits it had previously posted. That led the firm to take the sort of action that would have been anathema to it in the past: de-equitisation of “a very small number” of partners. The firm also took on LLP status in 2008.

Since then, Macfarlanes has more or less returned to form, with average partner profits rising back to their previous heights. Charles Martin is set to continue as senior partner until 2020, when he will be replaced by Sebastian Pritchard Jones.

Unusually for a large City firm, Macfarlanes did not shed its private client team in the 1990s or 2000s. It is a significant part of the firm to this day and has many high-profile high-net-worth clients on its books.

Managing partner Senior partner
1987 Roger Formby Vanni Treves
1999 Paul Phippen Robert Sutton
2008 Simon Martin Charles Martin
2011

Julian Howard

2020 To be announced Sebastian Pritchard Jones (announced)

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Macfarlanes?

1st year trainee: £42,000

2nd year trainee: £46,000

What is the NQ salary at Macfarlanes?

NQ solicitor: £81,300

Number of trainees: 60

MACFARLANES FACTS

Founded: 1875

Location: Chancery Lane