The U.K.’s top law firms have tightened their grip on the purse strings, increasing equity partner count by less than 4 percent despite a double digit increase in overall partner numbers over the last five years.

Legal Week research into partner headcount changes at the U.K.’s largest 25 firms by revenue shows that, on average, partner count grew by 16 percent from 2003-04 to 2008-09. There was only a 3.7 percent increase in equity partner numbers during the same period.

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