79th edition of Edwards Gibson Partner Moves featured in The Lawyer’s Horizon, Law 360, City A.M. and the Global Legal Post.

March 2024

The Lawyer writer Jessica Book’s article “Associates, your time will come’’ contextualizes the findings from our 79th edition of Partner Moves. Book highlights that for the first two months of 2024, there have been a staggering 101 partner moves’’: marking a 7 percent increase compared to last year, and a notable 9 percent rise when compared to the averages of the past five and ten years. The reporter extrapolates that “despite the economic roller-coaster the UK has experienced’’ recently, it seems that all firms, especially those from the US like Gibson Dunn and Paul Weiss, are still eagerly pursuing opportunities to invest in new books of business. The article then goes on to purport that that same eagerness in hiring does not extend to associates.

The article by Law360’s Marialuisa Taddia, titled “London Partner Market Continues with Record Hires In 2024’’ reported on the observations from our publication of London Partner Moves of January – February 2024.

 The article states that London law firms increased partner hires in 2024, reflecting BigLaw's confidence in private equity by examining our publication of record which reported ‘’101 partner moves in Jan-Feb, up 7% on the 94 hires in the same period a year before. It is the second-highest rate of hiring on record — bettered only by 2017’’.

Taddia also quotes Scott Gibson who said that ‘‘the ‘red hot’ market for partner hires is largely a continuation of the record year seen in 2023. Firms are making substantial investments on the expectation that inflation and global interest rates will fall, paving a return for private equity-led deal-making.’’ And that ‘’these counter-cyclical partner-led investment hires, whereby law firms essentially bought future books of business, remain in stark contrast to the recruitment market for junior lawyers which more accurately reflects the softer 'real-time' demand for transactional legal services relative to the 'post-Covid bounce’ .’'

The article then goes on to highlight Pinsent Masons LLP as the top partner recruiter with five partner hires, followed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, DLA Piper LLP, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and White & Case LLP with four partner hires. It made a notable mention of ‘’Fried Frank's addition of a private equity trio led by Christian Iwasko as the largest multiparter team move this edition’’. The article mentioned Paul Hastings LLP experiencing six partners leaving the firm whilst it added three partners in London during that period as well as Magic Circle firms like Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP losing partners to U.S. counterparts. Lastly, the article reported from our statistics that 30% of the hires were vertical and 38% were female.

City A.M.’s writer Maria Ward-Brennan published an article titled ‘’London’s Big Law hires near record level despite recession’’. Ward-Brennan leads the article by noting our past report evidenced that ‘’the rate of hiring is the second highest on record, coming second place to 2017 when the figures were ‘artificially inflated’ following the collapse of King and Wood Mallesons (KWM)’’.

The writer goes on to highlight our figures on female hires, which were at 38 percent, and that ‘‘just below 30 percent were non-partners moving into partnership’’. Ward-Brennan also notes that Pinsent Masons was the ‘’most active City firm’’ with regard to hiring, as well as highlighting that the firm also lost three partners in this edition.  The article further discusses the next highest partner hires for firms, along with a reference to our statistics on team moves.

The article closes with further reflection on this point with Scott Gibson’s insight, “…hiring at City law firms tends to reflect the strength of the underlying economy, so, with the UK now in recession, we might reasonably expect to see a slowdown in hiring relative to previous years.”

Lastly, The Global Legal Post’s reporter Victoria Basham wrote the article ‘’London partner moves for January, February second highest on record’’. This article too opens with a reflection on the sheer number of hires in this edition and highlights our cumulative past statistics, noting there was ‘‘an increase of 7% on the same period last year, when there were 94, and up 9% on the cumulative five-year and 10-year averages of 92 and 93 respectively. The rate of hiring was only bettered in 2017, when the figure was artificially inflated following the collapse of KWM’s European Verein.”

Basham goes on to discuss what the report reveals about the state of the economy, and quotes Scott Gibson, saying, ‘’the market remains robust not just in transactional areas linked to private equity-led investment but also in disputes and restructuring where ‘thanks to a UK economy that is now technically in recession, the partner recruitment market is probably more reflective of the real-time demand for legal services’ ‘’.

The article then draws from our statistics on team moves and discusses partner moves to and from UK Magic Circle Firms. It specifically discusses our report’s reflection on Linklaters’ recent proposal for an alteration to its compensation structure, noting ‘‘Edwards Gibson described the proposal as ‘looking extremely weak – an unhelpful image for a firm desperately trying to break the US market’, adding that it would put the firm at a considerable disadvantage when hiring laterals from US firms ‘’ .

The article concludes with a mention of our statistics on female hires, vertical hires, and in-house moves.

Read the full The Lawyer Horizon article here

Read the full Law360 article here.

Read the full City A.M. article here.

Read the full Global Legal Post article here.