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Financials 2015/16: Subdued market sees Watson Farley and RPC post single digit revenue growth

LB100 firms Watson Farley & Williams and RPC reported slower revenue growth for 2015/16 with Watson Farley growing revenues by 5% to £131.2m, while RPC’s turnover is up 6% to £100.5m.

Watson Farley & Williams mirrored its half year results and broke the £130m barrier with a further 5% revenue growth from £125.2m to £131.2m. In the first half of the year the firm also reported 5% growth from £56.8m to £59.5m, although for 2014/15 the firm was up 7% on the year prior.

According to Watson Farley co-managing partner Lothar Wegener, the solid growth is a result of significant investments the firm has made in all its business services including technology improvement programmes for IT and infrastructure, knowhow management and offices.

Co-managing partner Chris Lowe added: ‘On a currency adjusted basis we are more than 8% ahead of last year, with our lawyers having advised on a large number of high-profile cross-border transactions and disputes in our core sectors of energy and transport. This is clear evidence that our constant investment into high-profile practices complimentary to our sectors continues to help the firm succeed and differentiate itself in a highly competitive legal market and it is an endorsement for continuing our growth plan.’

Watson Farley welcomed seventeen lateral hires last year, particularly in the firm’s New York office. This month saw litigator Joshua Sohn join as a partner from Mishcon de Reya along with three associates and one paralegal, while Michael Lubin and Jeffrey Rendin join the firm’s real estate group as counsel. Lubin joins Watson Farley from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan where he was a real estate special counsel, while Rendin joins from the office of the New York Attorney General.

Meanwhile, RPC’s revenue was up by 6%, to £100.5m from £94.4m. The core law firm business’s profits rose by 1%, with RPC managing partner Jonathan Watmough calling the result ‘a stellar year’.

While the firm posted 12% revenue growth in 2014/15, Watmough said the 6% increase was a great achievement given the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum.

The firm, which is known for its work with the insurance industry, has branched out into management consultancy in 2015, targeting its core insurance clients. Last year, RPC hired Rory O’Brien, former global head of risk consulting at Towers Watson to lead the venture.

It added to this business with the launch of a consultancy for in-house lawyers. Dubbed RPC Perform, the consultancy is headed by Julia Chain, the former general counsel of T-Mobile.

RPC promoted three City partners this year bringing the firm to 79 equity partners. The firm also completed a tie-up with Singapore firm Premier Law, expanding its presence in South East Asia to target claims against major banks. This leave the firm with four offices: in London, Bristol, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Other LB100 firms to report this year include Fieldfisher, which saw revenue growth of 7% to bring turnover up to £121.5m. Meanwhile TLT, saw a 15% jump to £71.6m, and Browne Jacobson reported a 9% turnover increase to £64m.

Read more about Watson Farley’s strategy in the Focus feature: ‘This is not ad hoc’: WFW leadership duo aims to drive City specialist ahead of the pack’