Legal Business Blogs

White & Case’s City partner promotions drop to three in shift from NYLon focus amid 45-strong round

In an unusual move, White & Case has largely overlooked London in its latest partnership promotions as the firm minted only three in the City as part of its largest ever round.

The firm announced today (11 October) that as of January 2020 it will promote 45 of its lawyers to partner, four more than last year, but promotions in the City dropped by ten from 13 in the previous round.

Executive committee member Oliver Brettle (pictured) told Legal Business that the firm was looking at ‘consolidating what we already have’ and ‘making sure we have invested correctly’ after four years that saw ‘substantial numbers of partner promotions and lateral hires’.

Since the start of 2017, White & Case has promoted 30 London lawyers to partner, its London partner headcount growing from 80 at the start of 2015 to 122 at the start of 2019. ‘We are absolutely committed to continue to invest in London,’ said Brettle.

New York promotions also dropped this year, with the firm minting eight compared to ten in 2018, although overall promotions in the US were up by four to 16. As a result, London and the US together welcomed less than half of the new partners (42%) after accounting for 61% of the promotions last year and three quarters of its 31-strong round in 2017.

The real focus for the firm in Europe was its 200-lawyer German practice, with Frankfurt seeing eight lawyers promoted compared to just two last year and Düsseldorf getting one new restructuring partner. In Frankfurt four lawyers were promoted in M&A, two in banking, one in litigation and one in capital markets.

Brettle said: ‘We have seen an uptick in business activity in Germany, we have a very strong and growing practice in Frankfurt and we thought it was appropriate to invest in new talent. Is this directly Brexit-related? No. But is it entirely Brexit-unrelated? Also no.’

In total the firm promoted 14 lawyers in continental Europe, with Brussels seeing two added to its partnership, while Paris, Prague and Stockholm got one each. In Asia-Pacific, Singapore and Tokyo saw two promotions each, Hong Kong one.

In the City, Charbel Abou Charaf was promoted in the M&A practice, Jonathan Brierley in arbitration and Anneka Randhawa in white collar. Globally the firm’s M&A practice saw 19 promoted.

The new partners include 17 women, making up 38% of the total intake.

White & Case’s largest-ever promotion round comes after the firm broke the $2bn revenue mark after increasing turnover 14% in 2018, while profit per equity partner rose 6% to $2.4m.

Its City office grew turnover 7% to $350m, the third highest grossing London outpost of any US-bred firm after Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins at an estimated $380m and $375m respectively.

White & Case promotion round is once again dwarfed by Kirkland’s record 141-strong cohort announced last week, which includes 16 new partners in the City.

For more on White & Case’s unlikely revolution, see ‘Reborn Supremacy’ (£)