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‘Executing our strategy’: MoFo London revenue surges 25% but global turnover drops

Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) has added its name to the growing list of US firms with London offices outperforming the entire business in 2018 as City revenue grew by 25% against global dip in turnover by 2% to $1.04bn.

The firm announced today (26 March) its London revenue hit £30.93m in 2018, growing by more than 20% for the second year in a row after the 29% rise to £24.72m in 2017 . The 25% rise in its London turnover came amid a muted global performance at the West Coast-based firm, with turnover dropping 2% from $1.06bn. Revenue per lawyer was down 1% to $1.097m from $1.107m.

The firm altered its partnership structure last year, cutting 25% of equity partners to 167 from 224, while salary partner ranks rose 50% to 129 from 86. Thanks to these changes profit per equity partner rose 14% to $1.98m from $1.73m.

Nonetheless, Europe head Paul Friedman told Legal Business of his satisfaction with the City performance: ‘We are executing on our strategy: we have built up M&A, expanded disputes and investigations, we have launched the funds practice, which is getting busier, and we have made big changes in finance, which is ramping up.’

The London branch was in full expansive mode last year, growing its lawyer headcount by 26% to 73. The biggest coup on the lateral front came at the beginning of 2019 when the firm announced the hire of Latham & Watkins’ banking co-chair Christopher Kandel . Kandel was the third partner to join MoFo’s London finance practice in less than a year, following the arrivals of Benoit Lavigne from Ropes & Gray and Caroline Jury from Clifford Chance in 2018.

London highlights included representing SoftBank in its $6bn investment into WeWork and Global Logistic Properties on the formation of two European funds for $4bn. ‘We have benefited from tremendous support from the firm-wide network for some of the leading deals and investigations matters we did last year,’ added Friedman.

Looking ahead, the priorities for 2019 include growing the office’s nine-lawyer finance team and its private equity real estate practice, launched at the beginning of the year with the hire of Oliver s’Jacob and Luke Mines from Reed Smith.

‘One of the strengths of our firm is that we are diversified among geographies and practice areas,’ said Friedman. ‘We are well prepared whichever way the economy goes.’

The City branches of a number of other US firms have outpaced firm-wide revenue growth for 2018, including the world’s two top billing law firms, Kirkland & Ellis  and Latham .