The restructuring of the market for legal services is intensifying with hundreds of jobs and dozens of partnerships disappearing from the big firms and re-emerging at their mid-tier competitors.

The legal workforce at international and top-tier firms has shrunk by 440 positions since January and the number of partnerships at those firms has declined by 53 positions.

In the same period the mid-tier firms increased legal employment by 150 positions and created an additional 42 new partnerships.

The worst of the shake-out at the big firms has been at the international practices, where the rate of decline in legal employment and partner numbers has accelerated. Legal employment at the international firms has fallen by 12 per cent since January compared with 2.1 per cent in the year to June 30.

Partner numbers at these firms have fallen by 6.5 per cent since January compared with 3 per cent in the year to June 30.

At the mid-tier firms, this pattern has been reversed: the legal workforce has grown by 10.6 per cent since January compared with 8.5 per cent in the year to June 30. Partner numbers have increased by 5.1 per cent since January compared with 4.4 per cent in the year to June 30.

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