Legal Business Blogs

‘Satisfied’ Baker McKenzie adds $200m to top line but market volatility slows growth to a crawl

Baker McKenzie grew revenue to $2.92bn while partner profits hit $1.48m as uncertainty made for a more subdued year at the firm.

In constant currency terms revenue grew 4.4% but edged up only 1.2% in dollar terms, and partner profits grew 3% to $1.48m as net income increased 2% to $1bn. The results are markedly more muted than last year’s 10% constant currency growth and 13% hike in partner profits.

‘We are satisfied with the results,’ Bakers’ acting chair Jaime Trujillo told Legal Business. ‘There have been highlights such as a double-digit growth in London and healthy growth in industries like infrastructure.’

Alongside London, Bogota; Buenos Aires; Istanbul; Prague and Warsaw all saw double-digit revenue increases. Meanwhile, across the EMEA region, turnover was up 5.2% and in North America revenue grew 4%. Although the year-on-year figures are less glowing, the firm has increased its turnover 40% in the last 10 years and, in the same timeframe, grown partner profits 50%.

‘Demand for legal services has seen a noticeable decline,’ continued Trujillo. ‘But it is part of our purpose to help our clients navigate a complex world. We’re happy that our transactional practice saw growth despite volatility which conspires against transactional circles.’

Looking ahead the firm is making preparations for an economic downturn, but Bakers’ CFO Paul Eichelman remains optimistic: ‘We are planning for growth and to have growth. But we recognize the uncertainty and volatility in the market so we will continue to have the same financial discipline we have always had. These choppy times are not a distraction.’

2019 proved to be a trying year for Bakers. In April the firm announced the shock death of global chief Paul Rawlinson, who joined the firm in 1986 and successfully ushered a more ambitious phase for the global giant. More recently the firm made a significant litigation play this week by hiring Allen & Overy partner Marc Florent.