While the UK lurches through a Brexit drama entirely of its own making, mid-market and boutique London-based firms have focused on diversifying their services or using their unique offerings to differentiate themselves from the pack.
The combined turnover for the 18 City firms that sit in the second 50 of this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) is £839.7m, an increase of 8%. Average revenue increased 15%, reaching £46.7m. But, inevitably, the top-line growth of the firms in this group is distorted by some sizeable merger activity. Two of those firms have seen large jumps in revenue and headcount: Gordon Dadds, which after acquiring a large chunk of Ince & Co in 2018 and following its initial public offering (IPO) in 2017 – has seen turnover jump 68% from £31.2m to £52.6m under its new Ince branding (see case study). Bircham Dyson Bell, which merged with Reading stalwart Pitmans in December 2018, saw turnover climb from £33.7m to £52m as a result – a spike of 54%. With that level of artificial top-line growth, profit levels are hard to sustain. A 4% growth in the number of equity partners across the group has contributed to average profit per equity partner (PEP) only moving up 3% from £416,000 to £427,000.