Legal Business Blogs

Latham becomes the first $5bn law firm club member as revenue soars 27%

Latham & Watkins has become the first law firm to break the $5bn revenue barrier as turnover spiked 26.7% to $5.489bn in the 2021/22 financial year.

Profit per partner also saw a comparable 26% surge to $5.71m from $4.52 last year.

The figures released on Monday (21 March) easily eclipsed last year’s still impressive results, which saw turnover increase 15% to $4.33bn from $3.768. Global lawyer headcount has also seen a notable increase, rising by 8% to 3,078, while revenue per lawyer grew 18% from $1.52m to $1.78m.

Global chair Rich Trobman hailed the results as a vindication of the firm’s overarching strategy: ‘2021 was another successful year for the firm and we are pleased with our strong performance and achievements. Our long-term vision, deep and diversified platform, and commitment to client service helped grow demand for our legal services across practices and markets. We combined our worldwide resources with the best talent, sector knowledge, and experience to drive positive outcomes for our clients across all industries.

‘I am particularly proud of the resilience and hard work of our people and how we have supported one another throughout the year, all the while staying focused on our clients and their evolving needs. Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in our global platform, execute on our strategy, and deliver great client service.’

The firm does not habitually release regional profit breakdowns, but the London office is understood to have posted a 30% jump in revenue, which would take the office’s top line to around $700m, further enhancing its reputation as one of the most potent foreign practices in the high-end UK legal market. Such a figure would comfortably outstrip last year’s estimation, which suggested a 20% increase up to around $540m.

There has been no shortage of investment in London either –seven lateral hires have been recruited over the course of the year. The majority of these came in the finance, capital markets and corporate groups, including Bruce Bell (restructuring, Linklaters), Paul Dolman (PE, Travers Smith), Thomas Bartlett (project finance, White & Case), Alex Martin (structured finance, Weil, Gostshal & Manges) and Shawn Anderson (capital markets, Kirkland). Elsewhere, James Lloyd (Orrick) and Helen Lethaby (Freshfields) joined the data privacy and tax groups respectively.

In addition to lateral hires, the firm is increasing its commitment to internal growth in the city. Nine London associates were part of the 2022 partner promotion round, five of whom have spent their whole career at firm.

On the transactional side, M&A, capital markets banking all recorded double-digit growth, as did the emerging companies practice and public company practices. Disputes, general litigation, antitrust, IP, securities and professional liability were similarly bullish.

The key sectors driving activity were reflective of the market more generally. Technology, healthcare and life science and energy were all up compared to last year, as were financial institutions, retail and media.

Latham’s numbers have been released amid anticipation that long-time rival Kirkland & Ellis will also surpass the $5bn revenue mark in the coming weeks.

The rivals routinely battle for top spot among the global elite, with Kirkland last year striding out in front by around $500m.