Legal Business Blogs

‘Plenty of challenge’: Hogan Lovells earns 6% revenue uptick to hit $1.9bn as partner profits stall

After years of lacklustre growth, Hogan Lovells has seen a boost in global turnover of 6% up to $1.93bn for 2016. At like-for-like rates the firm said results were up around 8%, while in sterling the firm experienced an almost 20% boon due to the falling pound.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) was static at $1.3m while revenue per lawyer increased only 2% to $738,000 for 2016 from $724,000. The increase was a positive step compared to a previous RPL fall from 2014 to 2015 of 4%.

Hogan Lovells chief executive Steve Immelt told Legal Business: ‘It was a year of plenty of challenge, but we are happy with how we ended up and optimistic about 2017.’

The firm’s turnover breakdown saw the Americas bring in 52% of total billings as London and Europe together contributed 41% and Asia and the Middle East provided 7%.

Hogan Lovells’ London office enjoyed a solid year, with revenue growing 7% from £263m in 2015 to £282m in 2016.

While some former partners have questioned the potency of the London corporate offering with the imminent loss of long-term client SAB Miller following its acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev last year. Immelt said: ‘Our corporate practice was strong this year with London participating in the SAB Miller transaction while the US had major deals for Dell and Lockheed Martin. Clients get bought and sold, it’s an important and long-standing relationship but we are not dependent on any particular client as we’ve a diversified practice.’

Immelt (pictured) added: ‘The overall legal market has not been encouraging, but there is more complexity in work than ever before and clients need sophisticated advice and a deep sector understanding.’

The firm has continued investment in legal services, adding a new back office centre in Louisville Kentucky, which now has around 70 employees, in addition to its service centres in Birmingham in the UK and Johannesburg in South Africa.

Hogan Lovells added four new partners in the UK last year, including Pinsent Masons fintech partner John Salmon. In total, Hogan Lovells added 40 lateral partners in 2016.

Practice breakdown saw corporate handling around 32% of billings, while litigation, arbitration and employment earned 28%, government regulatory 16%, finance 14% and intellectual property, media and telecoms took in 10%.

Yesterday saw US giant Latham & Watkins post similar growth compared to the market average, growing revenue 7% to $2.8bn. PEP broke the $3m mark for the first time, while revenue per lawyer rose 2% to $1.23m