The Firm and Its Content
When viewed through the lens of personnel structure, an average law firm, which is ranked among the Top 50 law firms, is seen as a team of 30 lawyers or more, including five or six partners. Two thirds of its employees have over five years worth of work experience and more than half of them have been working for more than five years at one and the same law firm. At the same time, the market for personnel has revived somewhat, although law firms are still reluctant to increase their personnel numbers without counting on the market activating itself quickly
The 50 leading law firms of Ukraine employ around 1,700 lawyers — an average of 34 lawyers per company. While only at eight law firms does the number of lawyers (including partners) exceed 50. Another interesting figure is that only 29% of lawyers ranked among the Top 50 have a certificate giving them the right to practice law.
According to the results of the poll, two thirds of Top lawyers have over five years worth of work experience (30% — from five to ten years). As compared to the previous year, the number of young professionals with at least three years of general legal practice experience has increased to 18.6%. It should be noted that some improvement has been observed in the dynamics of personnel transfer at law firms listed in the Top 50 — 17% of employees working for the leading law firms changed their place of work during the period of research. The most active "talent hunters" include mostly start-up firms, namely: Aequo, Trusted Advisors, Redcliffe Partners, EVERLEGAL, Spenser & Kauffmann Law Firm. In general, the demand for legal personnel is less than the supply. Law firms are reluctant to increase the number of their employees, taking a rather pragmatic position towards the anticipated legal workload in 2017.
According to the survey's results, the work experience of an average employee of a leading law firm (including partners) is from five to ten years (30% of such experts work for the companies ranked among the Top 50 law firms). Another 21.1% of lawyers possess between 10 and 15 years of work experience. And only 12% of lawyers working for leading law firms have more than 15 years of legal practice. Besides, we should take into account the rather active transition in the past two years of law experts from the legal sector to public administration. At the same time, many of those specialists, who were among the founders of the domestic legal market are, for various reasons, not represented among the 50 leading law firms of Ukraine.
As for the faithfulness of lawyers to their law firms, 58% of them have been working at their current place of work for more than three years. The core of the law firm's staff is traditionally stable — 24% of lawyers possess between five and ten years of continuous service at one and the same law firm. In the case of another 14%, continuous length of service comes to over ten years. Quite a large number of lawyers, not necessarily partners, have been working for their law firms since the first day that they were founded.
The companies included in the Top 50 leading law firms of Ukraine have five or six partners on average. The largest number of partners (14) was registered at the Asters Law Firm. The Integrites International Law Firm occupies second place with 12 partners. Ten is the number of partners at the following law firms: Baker & McKenzie and Sayenko Kharenko. There are also six teams among legal market participants that have eight partners. The average ratio of partners to the salaried lawyers is equal to 1:4.5. It is close to the conditional optimum: it is believed that in medium--sized law firm partners should account for 15%-20% of the total number of lawyers. As we can see, the Ukrainian legal market, which consists mainly of medium-sized law firms, confirms this assumption.
The ratio of lawyers (including partners) to administrative personnel at law firms is also of great interest. At the Top 50 law firms, the average ratio of lawyers to employees who are not lawyers is 2.2:1. In international and large Ukrainian law firms, this figure is somewhat higher — 1:1.6. It should be noted, however, that different law firms may employ different approaches in the way they classify certain positions as "lawyers" and "service personnel". For example, at some law firms, paralegals (assistants) are considered to be administrative personnel, while at the others they may be classified as junior lawyers.