Partner team moves are the holy grail of legal recruitment - law firms eulogise them because, unlike individual lateral hires, fully integrated groups of mutually supportive partners cross-selling to longstanding clients dramatically increases the chances of successful client transfer and, unlike full-blown mergers, they come with minimal client conflict and team integration issues. Teams themselves favour them for the same reasons, but also because of the psychological reassurance that goes with moving with close, and often long-standing, colleagues.
Despite their clear utility, outside of full law firm mergers and insolvent collapses, the complexities of large team moves - where five or more partners move together - make them very rare. Edwards Gibson is one of the few UK legal recruiters to regularly advise on large team moves and our track record is second to none; in the years between 2015-2021, of the fourteen large team moves in the London legal market, Edwards Gibson is proud to have brokered over a quarter.
Recent large team moves by Edwards Gibson:
- Nine-Partner Team* [Litigation/ Civil Fraud/ Corporate Crime] from UK Law Firm to US Law Firm (National
- Six-Partner Team [Corporate/ Private Equity/ Funds/ Real Estate/ Tax] from UK Law Firm (Silver Circle) to US Law Firm (East Coast)
- Five-Partner Team [Corporate Real Estate/ Real Estate/ Real Estate Finance] from UK Law Firm (Top 25) to Global Law Firm
- Five-Partner Team [Structured Finance/ DCM/ Real Estate Finance/ Tax] from US Firm (East Coast) to US Firm (East Coast)
The table below shows the number of team moves per year (by the size of the team) since 2015 in London. It is clear that whilst two-partner team moves are very common, as the number of partners in the team increases the frequency of team moves decreases, reflecting the difficulties in executing such moves.
On occasion, team moves are staggered, with a number of partners moving some time (often a few months) after the bulk of the team. Inevitably, occasionally, the time frame between partners moving means that the staggered move extends over two calendar years. When this arises, Edwards Gibson records the move as occurring in the calendar year during which the majority of the partners arrived at the firm, and as the size of the final resulting team.
*This team move was staggered spanning two calendar years (2020/21).
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