Compared to the dramatic events that have defined each of the three previous years, 2018/19 was relatively benign for the world’s top 100 law firms. True, the world has been dealing with increasing protectionism, US-China trade wars and the endless saga of the UK-EU divorce. But none of these headwinds were a shock for an industry that three years ago was reeling from the Brexit referendum in the UK and in 2017 from the start of Donald Trump’s presidency in the US.
Last year’s Global 100 report spoke of two milestones, with the global legal elite smashing the $100bn collective revenue barrier and entering the age of the $3bn law firm. Those looking for events of a comparable magnitude this time around will be disappointed. But if the legal industry appeared resilient in summer 2017 and flourishing 12 months later, this year it is nothing short of booming. Collectively, these are the strongest results since the pain of the financial crisis started to be felt ten years ago. Overall revenue for the group grew by 9% to $113.51bn – the fastest rate of growth for a decade; gross profit rose by a healthy 8% to hit $43.44bn – a pace unmatched in ten years. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) also rose by a solid 7% to $1.87m.