Three US firms can claim to have the most junior corporate partnerships in the UK, data from The Lawyer can reveal, highlighting stark differences between the investment strategies of the nation’s transactional teams.

Kirkland & Ellis has the youngest corporate partnership overall, as a result of its quicker route to non-equity at around six years’ post-qualification experience (PQE).

Data uncovered by The Lawyer’s newly launched Practice Analysis service shows that the average PQE in Kirkland’s corporate team in just under 13 years.

Kirkland’s team is over four years more junior on average than second-place Paul Hastings (17.2 years) and Sidley Austin (17.7 years).

The UK’s youngest corporate partnerships

All three firms have been on a mission to boost their transactional benches in the City, resulting in a steady stream of internal promotions and external hires.

However, they are also home to some of the highest churn rates of the UK’s corporate practices, meaning new blood often needs to be found. There is much more movement across their teams, with Sidley Austin for instance hiring 12 corporate lawyers over the first quarter of 2023 and losing seven during the same timeframe.

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The youngest corporate partnership of a UK-headquartered firm is Macfarlanes (18.04 years), followed closed by Slaughter and May. These firms tend to rely on a stable pipeline of associates who have spent their entire career there, equating to speedier promotion rounds.

Hill Dickinson stands out among a raft of US and elite UK corporate firms for having the most junior corporate partnership of a regional firm. It elevated seven lawyers to its corporate and corporate commercial teams in 2022, having introduced an accelerated partner promotion scheme to improve both progression and retention.

Goodwin, White & Case, Latham & Watkins and Travers Smith are all also fielding corporate teams with a younger-than-average PQE, displaying similar cultural traits with the likes of Kirkland, Sidley and Slaughters.

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