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July/August 2020 round up of lateral partner moves in London


Click here for Partner Moves July - August 2020



Welcome to the latest round-up of lateral partner moves in the legal market from Edwards Gibson, where we look back at announced partner-level recruitment activity in London over the past two months and give you a ‘who’s moved where’ update. 

July to August is traditionally a quiet time for the announcement of lateral partner moves and whilst this edition is no exception, in view of the current economic shenanigans, it is perhaps surprising that the number of moves we recorded (51) is actually up 9% on the same period last year (47) and even slightly elevated on the statistical average for the same period over the past five years (50). 

There has been much discussion in the legal press that survival strategies of COVID-racked law firms include “encouraging” underperforming partners, and even whole practice areas, to move on. Whilst undoubtedly a real phenomenon of the current market, and one which is sure to accelerate as COVIDinduced economic shockwaves increasingly find their mark, in our view, the vast majority of hires outlined this round-up are comprised of anything but distressed émigrés . Indeed, this edition contains a disproportionate number of hires by uber profitable outfits not known for being trigger happy in the lateral partner market – of particular note - Simpson Thacher, fellow New Yorker Cahill Gordon & Reindel (which snared a brace of finance partners from Allen & Overy) and City blue-blood Macfarlanes

In a likely portent of things to come, three firms launched restructuring & insolvency practices and fully 14% of all the hires we recorded were bankruptcy lawyers.


Firms hiring laterals whose practices were primarily restructuring or insolvency related 


Addleshaw Godard
Boies Schiller Flexner
Pinsent Masons
Shearman & Sterling
Wilkie Farr & Gallagher


Just under 40% of all hires we recorded were disputes lawyers - which make up by far the highest proportion of movers in this edition.  Given the inverse relationship between economic health and litigation, an elevation in the number of contentious laterals was inevitable – and a sustained spike in demand for contentious partners is certainly in line with our own anecdotal experience. For readers in the litigation-friendly United States - where disputes offerings tend to make up a far greater proportion of Big Law’s revenues - the “high” proportion of disputes laterals we recorded may not seem intrinsically unusual, but it is noteworthy that at no time over the past 10 years has Edwards Gibson recorded an occasion where the number of disputes hires outnumbered those of both corporate and finance combined.


Top partner recruiters in London July – August 2020


DLA Piper 3
Cahill Gordon & Reindel 2
Clyde & Co 2
DAC Beachcroft 2
Paul Hastings 2
Seddons 2
Shearman & Sterling 2
Wiggin 2



Also of note in this edition


  • 24% of all laterals were non-partners moving into partnership; 
  • Five firms hired partners from in-house; 
  • Only 7% of the laterals who moved were female (by way of comparison, the annual number of female laterals between 2017-2019 was 26%).


Market Prognosis


The lateral recruitment market has so far defied gravity seemingly buoyed by law firms using their natural ability to counter-cyclically hedge their businesses - as indicated by the very high proportion of disputes and restructuring hires recorded in this edition. 

Whilst there is evidence that alternatively structured law firms, such as Keystone, have sharply increased hiring – likely aided in part by a number of conventional law firms nudging their underperforming partners out, so far at least, the inevitable disruption-induced involuntary movement of transactional partners is yet to be reflected in the hiring patterns of conventional law firms. … unfortunately, it is only a matter of time.


Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss this article or any other aspect of the market in more depth.


Please click here to understand our methodology for compiling Partner Moves


Many thanks,

The Edwards Gibson Team


Click here for Partner Moves July - August 2020







Previous Issues:

Partner Moves May - June 2020

Partner Moves March - April 2020

Partner Moves January - February 2020



Partner Moves November - December 2019

Partner Moves September - October 2019

Partner Moves July - August 2019

Partner Moves May - June 2019

Partner Moves March - April 2019

Partner Moves January - February 2019



Partner Moves November - December 2018

Partner Moves September - October 2018

Partner Moves July - August 2018

Partner Moves May - June 2018

Partner Moves March - April 2018

Partner Moves January - February 2018



Partner Moves November - December 2017

Partner Moves September - October 2017

Partner Moves July - August 2017

Partner Moves May - June 2017

Partner Moves March - April 2017

Partner Moves January - February 2017



Partner Moves November - December 2016

Partner Moves September - October 2016 

Partner Moves July - August 2016 

Partner Moves May - June 2016

Partner Moves March - April 2016

Partner Moves January - February 2016



Partner Moves November - December 2015

Partner Moves September - October 2015

Partner Moves July - August 2015

Partner Moves May - June 2015

Partner Moves March - April 2015

Partner Moves January - February 2015



Partner Moves November - December 2014

Partner Moves September - October 2014

Partner Moves July - August 2014

Partner Moves May - June 2014

Partner Moves March - April 2014

Partner Moves January - February 2014



Partner Moves November - December 2013

Partner Moves Sep - Oct 2013

Partner Moves July - August 2013

Partner Moves May - June 2013 

Partner Moves March - April 2013

Partner Moves January - February 2013



Partner Moves November - December 2012

Partner Moves September - October 2012

Partner Moves July - August 2012

Partner Moves May - June 2012

Partner Moves March - April 2012

Partner Moves January - February 2012



Partner Moves November - December 2011

Partner Moves September - October 2011

Partner Moves July - August 2011

Partner Moves May - June 2011 

Partner Moves March - April 2011

Partner Moves January - February 2011


For further information, or to discuss current trends in lateral partner recruitment, please speak to one of the Edwards Gibson consultants.

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Articles by Scott Gibson

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