Law Firm Partner Moves in London - Issue 48

November - December 2018

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Welcome to the latest round-up of lateral partner moves in the legal market from Edwards Gibson; where we look back at announced partner-level recruitment activity in London over the past two months and give you a ‘who’s moved where’ update.

This edition concludes our Lateral Partner Moves for 2018 and we have included some facts and figures below comparing the year’s partner-level recruitment activity with that of over the past five years.


A summary of 2018

2018 saw a total of 425 announced lateral partner moves – 6% down on the cumulative five-year average and a whopping 16% down on the record 504 we saw in 2017. 

Although the market in 2018 was clearly softer than in the preceding two years, it should be remembered that both the 2016 and 2017 figures were significantly elevated due to the distorting impact of the insolvent collapse of King & Wood Mallesons’ European Verein.  Indeed, the appetite of London law firms for hiring laterals in 2018 was surprisingly robust bearing in mind the economic uncertainties of a looming global trade war, fraught BREXIT negotiations, and the prospect of a snap general election arising from the inherent instability of the UK’s hung parliament.




There were no large (five-partner plus) team moves announced in 2018. The largest single team hire was by Milbank, which kicked off the year by raiding fellow New York firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft for a four-partner restructuring/ insolvency team.

Whilst plenty of firms hired six or more partners in 2018, the most acquisitive firm by far was White & Case which snapped up an astonishing 17 laterals.   


Top partner recruiters in London 2018

White & Case 17
Fladgate 11
Eversheds 9
Baker McKenzie 8

In addition, Latham & WatkinsMayer BrownMorgan Lewis, Osborne Clarke and Pinsent Masons each hired 7 partners, and Addleshaw Goddard, AshurstCharles Russell SpeechlysDLA PiperGreenberg TraurigFieldfisherIrwin MitchellKirkland & EllisMilbankSimmons & Simmons, and Stephenson Harwood all managed to snare a respectable half-dozen laterals. 


Other stats from 2018

  • 26% of the lateral moves we recorded were female partners – a similar number to the 25% we saw in 2017;
  • 110 lawyers moved from non-partner roles into partnership in 2018 (26% of the total number of moves) – the highest    proportion we have ever recorded.

November - December 2018

This bi-monthly round-up contains 61 lateral partner moves – almost exactly the same as the 60 we saw over the same period last year. Womble Bond Dickinson and US firm Greenberg Traurig, which has continued its aggressive European expansion, hired 3 partners a-piece. However, the most acquisitive firm in this edition was Fladgate, which hired 4 partners, making it the runner-up for the highest number of London laterals in 2018.


Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss this article or any other aspect of the market in more depth.

Scott Gibson, Director

Sloane Poulton, Director

Mark Coates, Senior Consultant


Please click here to understand our methodology for compiling Partner Moves



Click here for Partner Moves November - December 2018 (PDF)

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