Magic Circle Members Continue to Fight Their Talent War

London’s prestigious Magic Circle law firms – Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Slaughter and May, Linklaters, and Allen & Overy – made a record 152 of their lawyers partners this year as the war for talent rages on amongst the U.K.’s top firms.

This marks a 28% increase on the 119 promotions in 2021, and a 33% increase on the 114 promotions in 2020.

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Linklaters promoted the greatest number of its lawyers to partner level with 41, up from 33 in 2021 and 30 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Allen & Overy promoted 39, Clifford Chance promoted 37, and Freshfields promoted 27, with Slaughter and May bringing up the rear with only 8 new partners.

This uptick in promotions is due in part, no doubt, to the fierce competition for legal talent that has come as a result of the tremendous increase in demand for legal services. This increased demand, in turn, has been caused by a surge in M&A activity due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

A majority of the 152 new partners are based outside the U.K., but quite a few work out of the Magic Circle firms’ London offices.

27 of Freshfields’ new partners are based in London, while that number is only 17 for Clifford Chance, 16 for Linklaters, and 13 for Allen & Overy.

“This underlines the continued importance and success of England and Wales as a global legal center,” said Stephen Denyer, the Law Society’s Director of Strategic Relationships, in an interview with City A.M. “British expertise is highly valued and firms are competitive in a tough global market.”

Those elevated to partner will see significant raises as well, with new partners at Freshfields set to earn the most at £1.91 million ($2.37 million) a year.

For comparison, while Slaughter and May does not disclose how much its partners earn, those at Allen & Overy earn £1.9 million, those at Clifford Chance earn £1.85 million, and those at Linklaters earn £1.77 million. But as long as the demand for legal services remains high and competition for talent remains fierce, these numbers are likely to only go up.