Ten years to the top: average time to partnership revealed

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By Thomas Connelly on

Corporate finance and banking offer the best opportunity for progression, according latest research


It takes roughly ten years for a newbie lawyer to reach partnership level, according to the latest research.

Colchester-based recruitment firm, Origin Legal, has complied data from 111 lawyers — who made partnership this year — from London’s combined top 20 firms. The research revealed that 80% of those handed fresh promotions had between nine and 13 years’ post-qualification experience (PQE).

Of those lucky lawyers to make partner this year, just 13% — who are based at one of London’s top 20 firms — were less than nine PQE, whereas this figure stood at just over 22% at West End outfits.

The picture was a little different further North, with Origin discovering that Midlands-based firms were less inclined to offer partnership at a specific career point. The data showed that lawyers who made partnership at these firms were relatively evenly spread from eight to a whopping 16 years PQE.

Unsurprisingly, it’s still tough to reach the top. Just 1% of magic circle solicitors were made partner this year. This figure rose — ever so slightly — to 1.2% across the rest of London, and 1.6% at West End firms. Midlands firms offers the best chance of promotion, with 1.8% of lawyers elevated to partnership.

The research suggests that corporate finance and banking offer the “best opportunity for progression” to partnership. These two practice areas accounted for 60% on new partners in the magic circle and 39% across the rest of London.

Commenting on the latest research, Rupert Haxell, owner of Origin Legal, said:

The decade of experience needed to achieve a partnership role is not a big surprise, but the lack of opportunities after twelve years, especially within the magic circle, highlights how those in this situation need to be seriously considering their next move and quickly.