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Two recent cases on either side of the Atlantic point to one of the most crucial issues currently facing law firms: coping with the pressures caused by an aging partnership. In the United Kingdom, Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finally emerged victorious on Wednesday in its long-running dispute with former partner Peter Bloxham over the reform of the firm’s pension scheme. Meanwhile, in the United States, Sidley Austin last Friday agreed to pay $27.5 million to 32 former partners who were demoted to counsel in 1999 when all were in their 50s and 60s. There are clear distinctions between the cases, but they point to the demographic time bomb ticking at most English and American firms.

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