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Law Firm Partner Ranks Dip in UK, ‘Unproven’ Associates Look Elsewhere

Posted Sep 24, 2012 6:28 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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Continuing economic problems, older lawyers putting off retirement and uncertainty about the U.K.'s new "Tesco Law" are reasons cited for a shrinking partner base.

The dip in partner levels is the first since the 2008-09 recession, according to the Financial Times.

Citing a recent survey by Wilkins Kennedy, the Financial Times notes that the total number of partners dropped by 153, following two years of significant gains.

“Slow growth in fees means fewer promotions are taking place. At the same time some partners at smaller law firms have been forced to delay their retirement because of the recession," Tommy White, a partner at Wilkins Kennedy, said in a statement. "Some partners approaching retirement age have looked at their savings and decided that a comfortable retirement simply isn’t possible yet."

White stated that associates who've not yet proven their ability to bring in new business are waiting longer for promotions and in some cases are looking elsewhere, especially at in-house jobs.

The Financial Times notes that a previous analysis of the legal market showed that firms that are already scaling back would need to cut headcount by an additional 5 percent to maintain pre-recession profitability.

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