It has been a dramatic year for the world’s top 100 law firms in three respects. Our prediction that the group would break the $100bn barrier by the end of 2016 did not quite happen in last year’s report, but that barrier has been smashed a year later with total revenue for these firms rising 6% to reach $104.42bn. The indomitable US disruptors Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins ramped up growth substantially to make this the year of the $3bn law firm. Lastly, Kirkland hiked revenue by more than $500m to surpass Latham with a 19% surge to $3.165bn.
Two years on from events that threatened to destabilise the global economy – the UK’s shock vote for Brexit and Trump’s election as the leader of the free world – the harbingers of doom appear to have been wrong. While no self-respecting lawyer would admit to a lull in activity, the figures speak to a market that has not only withstood turbulence but flourished. Overall, it was one of the stronger underlying performances in the elite group since the banking crisis thanks to active deal markets and a robust global economy.