Legal Business Blogs

A comeback year for Baker & McKenzie as firm posts 8% turnover growth

In results that see the firm leapfrog DLA Piper, to make it the second largest law firm in the world by turnover, Baker & McKenzie has bounced back from falling revenues in 2014/15 to post an 8% increase in revenue to $2.62bn for 2015/16.

Last year, Baker & McKenzie’s turnover fell 4% to $2.43bn, but the boost in turnover takes the firm beyond its previous $2.54bn high watermark in 2013/14.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) was also up 13% to $1.3m, still significantly below high billing rival and Global 100 leader Latham & Watkins which posted PEP of $2.9ml. Baker & McKenzie’s net profit increased 14% to $904m.

Baker & McKenzie global chairman Eduardo Leite (pictured) said: ‘These strong results represent the work of many years, investing in our clients and investing in our talent, as well as leadership and strategy. This year compared to last year was fantastic, last year we had very challenging times.’

The firm added 65 lateral hires in the last financial year and promoted 85 partners last month, including 34 women, matching the firm’s previous gender diversity benchmark.

Leite cited London as a top performing office, reflected in the election of London managing partner Paul Rawlinson as the firm’s new global chairman. The office saw City revenue up 9% to £145m in figures reported in March for 2014/15.

Rawlinson fought off competition in a four-way election against Latin America chair Claudia Prado, EMEA chair Gary Senior and former Paris managing partner Eric Lasry. His win was announced in June and he will take up the role on 23 October following the firm’s annual meeting in Barcelona.

‘Paul is a great choice for the firm,’ said Leite. ‘He has the cultural sensitivity that someone leading Baker & McKenzie needs. He is a global citizen, something which Baker & McKenzie has always looked for in its leaders.’

He said the legal world was markedly different from when he took up the chair role in 2010. Many law firms were adopting aggressive globalisation strategies, while political and economic turmoil and technological disruption were forcing law firms and clients to innovate.

Leite said the firm would continue to focus on several core markets: New York, London and China. In London the firm has elected Alex Chadwick to take on the managing partner role from Rawlinson.

The firm also expected to continue to make inroads to developing legal markets, in South America, Africa and Asia. ‘We need to expand our footprint in the markets of the future, Africa is one where we have a very ambitious and aggressive strategy,’ said Leite.

On his exit from the top job, following in the footsteps of past chairs John Conroy and Christine Lagarde, Leite said he planned to continue working with the firm in some capacity, although spending more time in closer to home in Brazil.

‘We managed to expand over six years and have consolidated our position in many regions. We have ten new offices in very important areas, I know many firms are very challenged to keep doing that. And we are still number one in South America,’ said Leite.