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Global London: Ropes & Gray City revenues jump 30%

In line with other US firms that have sustained robust City growth and after bolstering its headcount by 17%, Ropes & Gray has increased its London office revenues by 30% in 2014, bringing them to around $64m.

Much of the firm’s growth is down to the firm’s finance practice, which has seen a steady flow of work come in the areas of banking, high yield, mezzanine and direct lending as companies looked increasingly to the US for finance or demanded US-style terms in London.

In addition, its budding private equity practice started to break City ground this year, both with the hire of Phil Sanderson from Travers Smith who officially joined in January, as well as scoring its biggest mandate from widely desired private equity client Bain Capital.

The firm advised Bain Capital Europe on its acquisition of CRH’s clay and concrete businesses in the UK and United States in a transaction worth £414m in December last year; and represented Bain Capital in its planned acquisition of TI Automotive in January. Although no London partner directly manages the relationship with Bain, partners Will Rosen, Bill Mone, and John Newton all maintain professional contact with the client.

The firm’s drive to boost its offering is backed by the growth in headcount, which rose 17% from 83 fee-earners to 97 in 2014, of which 24 are partners. This is after total fee-earner headcount shot up 48% from 56 lawyers in London in 2013. In addition to hiring Sanderson, the firm also added Monica Gogna from Pinsent Masons in August 2014, and Carol Hopper from Allen & Overy in January 2015, and is set to move to larger offices at 1 Ludgate to accommodate its growing headcount.

Over 2015, the firm is looking to its government enforcement practice to be the biggest growth driver in the City over the next year. Co-head of the firm’s finance practice group Mike Goetz told Legal Business: ‘The US are at an advantage here, as so much of the enforcement activity has been in the US with the SEC, and the DoJ. Now, with the new regulatory regimes in the UK, and with the anti-bribery act, not only in Europe but in Asia and Africa also, this area has become a constant source of work for law firms, and US firms are very well placed for it.’

Other goals are to grow its real estate practice as well as expand its securitisation offering in the City. At present, the firm’s City team has 14 partners in corporate/finance, three in bankruptcy/insolvency, two each in disputes, real estate, investment management and private investment funds, and one tax partner.

Last week both Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Covington & Burling revealed solid growth rates in their London offices with Weil’s outpost seeing revenues rise 10% to $125m while Covington was up 7% to $64m in the City.