'There have been 366 partner hires by commercial law firms in London so far this year, down 18% on last year, according to new research by legal recruitment consultancy Edwards Gibson for Law.com International.
Of those, 268 were hires from one partnership to another while the rest included non-partners such as associates and counsels who were hired as partners.
Topping the rankings for partner to partner hires this year was Goodwin Procter, with eight laterals, Edwards Gibson’s research shows.
The research by Edwards Gibson collates partner hire announcements made in London within commercial legal sectors. The data does not, however, include non-commercial sectors such as family law or residential real estate hires even where these have been made by a commercial law firm. It also omits partner retirements or law firm mergers, such as Deloitte Legal’s acquisition of Kemp Little, as well as hires by alternative business structures such as Keystone Law and Gunnercooke.
Reflecting on the lateral market as a whole in 2020, Scott Gibson, director at Edwards Gibson said: “Given that the U.K. has experienced its greatest economic contraction in 300 years, law firm recruitment has remained surprisingly robust and will probably remain so.”
Gibson cited the rise in COVID-induced workflow as well as disruption within the legal industry itself as reasons why recruitment may well stay buoyant.
He added: “Teams will not want to be tied to an underperforming law firm – particularly one which requires a significant increase in capital contributions. Equally, many law firms will themselves shed underperforming partners and practices who will resurface at new homes.”'
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