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2017 London Partner Survey

London, England (January 29, 2018) – A new compensation survey released today by Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), the world’s largest legal search firm, reveals that compensation for male partners outpaces that of female partners by 24%.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with Acritas and measured respondents’ satisfaction with their professional lives and their work as lawyers. It fielded responses from partners representing 67 firms in the Magic Circle, the top 30 UK firms and the AmLaw 100 firms with London offices.

Female partners reported earning an average of £502,841 annually, compared to an average of £667,521 earned by male partners. The difference in originations between women and men was 10% – with female partners responsible for average originations of £1,810,976, compared to £2,017,857 for male partners. This suggests that factors other than the ability to generate revenue account for the majority of the gender pay gap.

“This data highlights that we still have a long way to go before we reach compensation parity for women in law firms,” said Nick Paleocrassas of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Partner Practice Group. “While the survey brings to light many positives, particularly that City partners overall feel relatively satisfied and fulfilled, it also accentuates some of the challenges that come with practising law at the highest level.”

The survey also revealed that satisfaction among laterals was notably higher than among home-grown partners: 76% of lateral partners described themselves as satisfied (without factoring in compensation considerations) vs. 57% of home grown partners.

Additional matters relating to partner compensation were also examined, such as willingness to trade compensation for other benefits, perceived bias impacting compensation and transparency of remuneration structure and compensation system.

Other key findings include:

  • City partners report higher levels of overall satisfaction when factoring compensation into their considerations. 76% of respondents classified themselves as very satisfied, moderately satisfied or slightly satisfied when factoring in compensation, versus 69% when compensation was not taken into consideration. Only 19% of partners said that they were dissatisfied with when factoring in compensation and only 25% expressed dissatisfaction when not taking it into account.
  • More than half (55%) of the participants would trade in a portion of their compensation for another benefit. The most desired benefit is more time off, followed by a more flexible work schedule and reduced billable hours. Home-grown partners are most likely to consider trading in a portion of their compensation in return for another benefit. 47% of men reported that they would not trade compensation for other benefits vs. 39% of women.
  • Over half of the partners surveyed feel that bias plays a role when it comes to determining compensation. Cronyism is the most commonly identified bias at 38%, followed by bias against home grown partners at 21%. Female partners are more likely to identify bias at their firm, and much more likely to identify gender bias than male partners (37% vs. 8%).
  • Only one third of partners know whether their firm has calculated its gender pay gap. UK firms and Verein firms are more likely to have done so. Visibility appears limited even among firms that have calculated the gender pay gap, with few partners able to confidently state the value of the gap.
  • There is clear correlation between openness of the compensation structure and partners’ satisfaction with their compensation. Overall partners working in open compensation systems identified themselves as more satisfied than those working in less transparent compensation systems.
  • Most law firms have now moved away from lockstep towards more meritocratic systems. 43% report that this has had a positive impact on earnings and 28% believe it has had a positive impact on retention. However, the data suggests that partners believe it has a negative effect on collaboration, information sharing and allocation of work.

Major, Lindsey & Africa regularly conducts a Lateral Partner Satisfaction Survey and a Partner Compensation Survey in the U.S. and London, giving a voice to law firm partners around the world about their earnings, compensation potential and career satisfaction. The full report of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s London Partner Compensation Survey is available here.

About Major, Lindsey & Africa


Founded in 1982, Major, Lindsey & Africa is the largest and most experienced legal search firm in the world. With more than 25 offices worldwide, Major, Lindsey & Africa has earned recognition for its track record of successful general counsel, corporate counsel, partner, associate and law firm management placements. The firm also provides law firms and companies with highly specialized legal professionals on project, interim and temporary-to-permanent hire basis. Combining local market knowledge and a global recruiting network, Major, Lindsey & Africa recruiters are dedicated to understanding and meeting client and candidate needs while maintaining the highest degree of professionalism and confidentiality. The firm considers every search a diversity search and has been committed to diversity in the law since its inception. Major, Lindsey & Africa is an Allegis Group company, the global leader in talent solutions.

To learn more about Major, Lindsey & Africa, visit www.mlaglobal.com.


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