Legal Business Blogs

Osborne Clarke reaps benefit of year of European expansion with revenue increase of 14%

Osborne Clarke has ended a year of international expansion with 2012-13 revenues up by 14% to £112m as it beds down new offices in Italy and Spain.

The revenue growth masks a couple of slow periods for the firm’s transactional business in what managing partner Simon Beswick described as a ‘lumpy market’. Discounting revenues from the top 40 UK firm’s new offices, its year-on-year turnover figure fell by 1% from £98m in 2011-12 to £97m in 2012-13.

The 410-lawyer firm posted a dip in net profits during the same financial period, down 5% from £37m to £35m.

It has been an expansive year for the Bristol-based firm both in terms of new offices and lateral hires, having recruited 20 lawyers at partner level and merged with its Spanish and Italian alliance partners Osborne Clarke Spain and SLA Studio Legale Associato in July last year.

Of the 20 partner hires, 13 of these were appointed in the UK offices, with eleven brought in to expand the London office and two in Bristol.

Beswick said: ‘It was a year where we set out to do two things, one was to grow the business internationally, and two was to add scale to our business in London and we achieved both those things.

‘Our profit performance reflects the investments we have made internationally and to grow scale in London, as well as the slow transactional periods. All of our investments have been made without recourse to either borrowing or partners being asked for cash calls.’

More recently the firm launched in Hamburg in October 2012 and in Brussels earlier this month with the hire of a ten-strong team from former local ally De Wolf & Partners led by employment partner Thierry Vierin and commercial partner Stefan Deswert, although these moves are not yet reflected in the financial results.

The firm is finalising plans to move into Paris later this year, with an office opening earmarked for the autumn. ‘We’re very nearly there with the Paris opening. We’ve been actively recruiting for the last six months and trying to pull together a core team of partners. We feel we’ve got very close to knowing who that core team is,’ said Beswick.

In terms of practice areas, Beswick singled out banking and real estate as having had a particularly good year. ‘We had a reasonably steady period across the piste but the one area where we had more volume come through in the last year, and it’s probably not surprising because it’s where we made quite a few of our investments, is in banking and real estate. Those are the areas that really stand out,’ said Beswick.

Earlier today Pinsent Masons announced an increase in turnover of 40% to £309m thanks to its merger with McGrigors last June.