Legal Business Blogs

Another record year for Fieldfisher as ‘more international’ firm breaks £200m barrier

Fieldfisher’s leader believes the firm has a ‘very happy partnership’ after cementing its position as the mid-market pace setter with a 24% increase in revenue this year.

The firm turned over £207m globally, largely as a result of organic growth in a 2017/18 financial year less defined by international expansion than previous periods. Profits per equity partner (PEP) also grew by a healthy 17% to £750,000.

In a performance which managing partner Michael Chissick hailed as ‘outstanding’, the UK business brought in £135.6m, up on last year’s £110. The firm was in April named the Law Firm of the Year at the 2018 Legal Business Awards.

The results were certainly a nice birthday present for Chissick, who turned 53 this week, with the firm more than doubling its revenue under his watch over the last five years. The 117% growth from £95m in 2012/13 speaks volumes of his success in reinventing a business which was going through a near-crisis situation when he took on his management role.

‘All of the offices have grown,’ Chissick told Legal Business. ‘We had a very strong year in the tech sector and particularly in GDPR privacy work – we are the go-to firm for that type of work. We had a very strong run in litigation and international arbitration.’

The firm recently added life sciences, which brought in £11.5m, as its fourth area of focus, alongside financial services, energy and natural resources, and technology. Chissick added: ‘Our sector strategy is paying off very well.’

The firm’s alternative legal services platform Condor, which in October last year entered South Africa, also boosted revenue for the firm. Launched in January 2017, the platform combining document data management and technology solutions with low-cost legal expertise turned over more than £2m.

‘We are a very happy partnership,’ said Chissick, who pointed to the firm not losing a single partner over the year, while bringing in a record 22 laterals.

Although the global growth was relatively slower than last year’s record 36%, it came on the back of comparatively subdued international expansion, only opening new offices in Bologna, Amsterdam and Shanghai.

While the UK accounted for 65% of revenue, Germany grew by 46% to £13m, becoming the second largest source of foreign income for the firm after France’s £14m. The Brussels office was third at £11m.

‘We are becoming more international, that’s my message,’ said Chissick. More recently the firm added offices in Frankfurt and Luxembourg and is looking to launch in Madrid and Barcelona.

The firm was more cautious on forecasting future revenue growth, pointing to expectations closer to high single-digit improvements. But Chissick said: ‘We started the year well, there seems to be good activity level. I’m optimistic.’

In other financial results unveiled this month, fellow mid-market high performer Osborne Clarke reported 14% global revenue growth to €273m.

For more on Fieldfisher’s and Osborne Clarke’s reinvention, see Reversal of Fortunes (£).