Legal Business Blogs

Outpaced – US firms’ 2013 City revenue increases overshadow global results

Aside from a notable shift towards growth, one of the most salient trends to emerge from 2013’s US financial results is the fact – and the extent to which – the London offices of America’s finest firms are outpacing their global recovery.

Shearman & Sterling set the bar high with a 20% increase in London revenues to $134.8m, up from $112.6m in 2012, the firm’s fourth successive year of growth. Firm-wide, despite the Wall Street thoroughbred achieving a much-needed return to form with a 9% turnover increase to $820.5m, this was clearly overshadowed by its high double-digit surge in the City.

Wall Street rival Weil, Gotshal & Manges, despite achieving disappointing overall results, which saw the firm’s revenues drop by 7.4% to $1.14bn, nonetheless swelled its London coffers by 6% to $117m, up from $110 in 2012, results collated for Legal Business’ latest Global London Top 50 show.

Meanwhile at Chicago-founded, highly profitable US firm Latham & Watkins, the firm’s global revenue increase of 2.7% to $2.29bn was also overshadowed by its results in the City, where 2013 turnover was up by 6.6% to $210.6m.

Latham has made its intentions in the City clear with a run of high profile hires from Clifford Chance (CC), including global head of private equity David Walker, fellow private equity partner Tom Evans and co-head of CC’s Africa practice, Kem Ihenacho, all having joined in under a year from the Magic Circle giant.

Of the largest global firms Baker & McKenzie, which has the largest London office of them all, saw a 7% increase in its City revenue to $212.4m from $198.3m the previous financial year. Global revenue grew to US$2.419bn, an increase of around 4.6%.

At Jones Day, which has made a string of lateral hires in the City over the past few months, sources within the firm indicated that London turnover is up by 10% to $110.1m. Recent hires include Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) former private equity head Raymond McKeeve and fellow partner Michael Weir, as well as banking and finance partner Brian Conway from Lathams.

At Mayer Brown, which last year brought in nine new partners in London, revenue is up by 12%, which based on last year’s Global London figures, bring its total turnover to $162.6m for 2013. Globally revenue grew 5% to $1.146bn, according to figures from The American Lawyer.

The 1,536-lawyer firm’s London hires included two finance partners from BLP, Trevor Wood and Richard Todd, along with corporate partner Greg Stonefield from White & Case. The firm also significantly bolstered its real estate team with the hire of the well-regarded Pat Jones from legacy SJ Berwin, and brought in Martin Wright from Ashurst to head its European real estate practice.

At Reed Smith, where the firm’s biggest office is in London, 2013 turnover was up by 13% to $190m in the City, up from $168m in 2012. Globally the top 30 firm’s revenue grew by 6% to $1.075bn.

Meanwhile, at 1,947-lawyer US firm White & Case, revenue in the City is understood to have reached $203.3m, a 4% increase on 2012 figures, on a par with the increase in its global growth figures from The American Lawyer, which show an increase of 4% to $1.44bn.

The top 15 Global 100 firm invested heavily in its City office last year, with two of the most notable lateral hires in 2013, Linklaters’ private equity co-heads Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle.