Lawyers Age Demographics

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We have analysed the partners’ ages of the top 100 or so incorporated law firms in the UK. Our analysis covered over 12,000 partners at 138 legal firms and hence should be fairly representative.  We have used the data from Companies House filings; we know from each company’s annual return how many partners they have and their date of birth and we compiled the data in 2013. Note that the data relates to partners of the LLPs, and not to equity partners.

We banded the partners into 5 year bands from 30 up to 65. Interestingly there were no partners under the age of 30 and only a few over 65.  We also calculated the average ages. For most large firms, the largest group of partners is in the 40-45 age band, and the average age of a partner at a top firm is now 47 years.

The chart shows the frequency distribution of the firms average age with a pretty even spread and a pretty narrow range. There are 18 firms with an average age over 50, and 13 firms with an average age of under 45 – with 138 in our sample, that leaves over 100 firms in the 45-50 year age bracket. There is nothing outrageous or unexpected in this, but it highlights how conservative the profession is, and we would expect that the average ages of Goldman Sachs partners, for example would be radically different (Goldmans refused to supply us with the information).

Nor does there appear to be much of a relationship by size of firm - the chart shows the average partner ages split by size of firm decile for the top 100 firms - the largest firms are in a 46-48 year band, and smaller firms are a shade higher with the two bands in the middle having a slightly younger age.

It would be interesting to compare the accountancy profession and determine if there are any similarities. What's clear in the legal profession is that it doesn't matter how talented you are, you will not be made a partner until age 30.