One in three solicitors in private practice blames their ‘stifled’ career progression on increased competition from their peers combined with fewer partners retiring, a survey has revealed.

The survey of more than 200 private practice solicitors, published today by recruiters Laurence Simons, quoted Law Society statistics showing that the number of partners in the profession has grown by two-fifths since 1990, whereas the number of non-partner solicitors has grown by more than double that figure.

In the same period there has been an almost one-third decline in the number of partners retiring or otherwise leaving the profession. The result is a ‘bottleneck’ of more candidates competing for fewer partnerships, the survey says.

The survey also refers to an analysis of 200 partner profiles from the top 28 firms in the UK, which shows that the average partner is 44 years old and has been with his or her current firm for 11 years. This indicates, the survey says, that ‘most partners have not joined their current firm at partner level, but have taken the internal route to partnership’.

Laurence Simons director Guy Adams said: ‘The decrease in retirement figures has had a negative effect on promotion opportunities at all levels. Where previously, years of tenure guaranteed a relatively quick succession up the corporate ladder, lawyers now have to consider alternative career strategies in order to achieve promotions.’

Laurence Simons surveyed 209 solicitors working in private practice between 26 July and 6 August.