With City law firms braced for Brexit-related shocks, the first 2016/17 results from a major London practice will ease Square Mile nerves with Simmons & Simmons today (8 June) confirming a 7% hike in revenues and an emphatic rise in partner profits.
Simmons saw revenues up £21m from £295m to £316m, a substantial improvement on its 2015/16 results, when it barely grew its top line. Profits per equity partner (PEP) increased 9% to £635,000, up from £585,000 the year before, while net profits also climbed 12% over the year.
Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that growth was driven by its Middle East and continental Europe practices. He also said that contentious practices like litigation and employment had expanded, which he described as ‘a continuation of a theme we have seen for years’.
‘We have made a number of improvements. Also, I like to think the legal market hasn’t grown by 7%, so we have taken some market share. I hope our strategy of building on our strengths is paying dividends.’
The results come amid a year of sustained investment for the 900-lawyer firm, which has made 28 lateral partner hires over the last 15 months.
‘We opened the Luxembourg office with five partners just before the start of the financial year, so this is covered in these financials, and we obtained the joint law venture for Singapore late last year,’ added Hoyland.
Hoyland said that the firm was currently gauging the impact of the Brexit vote on its core City practice, which has traditionally been geared towards finance clients, and ‘definitely undertaking some contingency planning’. Simmons made a series of redundancies last year in its banking and real estate practices in the wake of the Brexit referendum result last June.
‘We will use the new financial year to identify opportunities from clients, whether this involves work in restructuring, regulatory, corporate or employment in the short term,’ concluded Hoyland.
Despite its expansive form, Simmons suffered a number of senior exits last year, including four partners from its profitable intellectual property (IP) practice to Allen & Overy. Hoyland noted that the firm has promoted and hired in IP in response, including hiring Olswang heavyweight Michael Burdon. The firm also recently voted in changes to head off team exits.
Though Simmons’ performance has been outpaced by a number of London-centric mid-tiers such as Osborne Clarke (OC) and Fieldfisher, the result will be viewed as a credible run for a finance-heavy institution operating in turbulent markets. OC increased its revenues by 12% to €245.1m, while UK revenues rose 7% to £121m. Fieldfisher announced a 34% increase in turnover for 2016/17, from £121.5m to £165m.