Ten years to the top: average time to partnership revealed

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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.


Trench warfare

What is this horsecock Tommy? Most people are pissing blood trying to bag their coveted TC at a top firm – who gives a flying f*ck about partnership prospects when they can’t even reach the entry position?


Only ten?

In many cases this isn’t long enough! Bumping up the numbers to increase billing rates. Clients see straight through this tactic.



Avoid partnership in any form of business. Be your own boss or nothing. Where does this partnership myth comes from and why does LC promulgate it?



Trench Warfare. Right on!


Trench warfare

The vision of partnership is the proverbial carrot dangled on the end of a very long and increasingly greasy stick by the moneyed equity deadwood in most British firms.

By and large it’s far better, money-wise, to join a top dollar paying US firm (think Kirkland, Sidley or Akin) and stay on as long as you can as an associate. 9 out of 10 cases you’ll be earning far more than you could ever reach at a British firm, even as a salaried partner, with arguably comparable (or slightly lesser) levels of stress and hassle.

This is not to mention the utter ballbreaking that can happen if you’re a partner and the firm asks you to pay in a cash call, like KWM are doing right now. Imagine the self-loathing these people must go through, being pumped for £60,000 for an utterly uncertain prospect of earning more a few years hard graft later. No thanks.


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