Decade needed for partnership in the Capital

Decade needed for partnership in the Capital


Africa and Latin America remain untapped by UK Top 20, despite two-thirds of partners based abroad

Lawyers in London must have ten years’ experience to be made a partner, while those with more tend to be overlooked for promotion, according to new research.

Legal recruitment specialist Origin Legal has highlight that 111 partners were announced within London’s combined top 20 firms over the last year, with 80 per cent boasting between nine and 13 years’ experience.

Profiling the qualification dates and practice area across London firms, including the Magic Circle, West End firms, and those in the Midlands, showed that qualifiers in 2006 were the largest group to be made partner in 2016.

However, the research also showed that the gap for promotion is slim as those who make partner, have likely done so by the time they hit 12 years’ PQE.

The sector with the best opportunity for progression is corporate finance and banking, which accounted for 60 per cent of partners in the Magic Circle and 39 per cent in the rest of London.

Just 1 per cent of solicitors were made partner within the Magic Circle in 2016, this rose to 1.2 per cent throughout the rest of London, 1.6 per cent in the West End, while opportunities almost doubled in the Midlands, with 1.79 per cent of solicitors achieving partnership.

There was a much broader range of qualifying dates in partners made up in 2016 in the Midlands, ranging from 1996 to 2008, with partners having at least eight years’ PQE.

Origin Legal’s Rupert Haxell said the decade of experience needed to achieve a partnership was not a big surprise, but the lack of opportunities after 12 years, especially within the Magic Circle, ‘highlights how those in this situation need to be seriously considering their next move and quickly’.

In separate research, published today, Edward Drummond & Co found nearly two-thirds of partners in the Top 20 are now based outside of the UK, but only 20 per cent are found outside Europe, or North America, suggesting leading firms may be underexposure to emerging markets.

Daniel Watts, managing partner at the management consultancy, said that to see UK firms under-represented in these regions was ‘eye-opening’ given the ‘potential scale of these markets’.

Africa and Latin America have seen significant economic growth and foreign investment in recent years and represent 3 per cent and 7.9 per cent of global GDP respectively. However, these areas have only 1 per cent and 2 per cent of UK law firm partners respectively.

Former Soviet states and the Middle East could also represent areas for further investment for firms, according to the consultancy as, at present, there is a low concentration of partners in these regions relative to the number of partners in the UK.

Asia Pacific represents 32 per cent of global GDP but has just 13 per cent of Top 20 partners. However, regulatory rules do make it hard for foreign firms to establish themselves in overseas markets, such as South Korea, China, and Indonesia.

‘Emerging markets still offer considerable growth potential for the UK’s legal expertise, especially as their economies continue to grow at a faster rate than the more mature economies where most UK law firm partners are based now. But clearly the execution risks vary country by country,’ said Watts.

‘Regions like South East Asia and Africa can be more challenging than western markets for foreign firms to gain a foothold in due to a number of barriers to entry. Firms therefore have to do their research prior to setting up in a brand new region.’