The highest-ever gross turnover but reduced growth figures was the message that came out of DLA Piper’s financials today (28 February), as the top Global 100 firm revealed a 1.7% increase in revenue to $2.48bn, while revenue per lawyer rose 3.3% to $625,000.
Profit per equity partner rose just 1% to $1.325m, while the global firm’s net income slipped 0.3% to $602m, although that still constitutes a significant improvement when compared with 2011 figures of $563m.
Equity partner head count dropped 1.7% to 454, as the firm’s profit margin also decreased 1% from 25% to 24%. The latest results illustrate a notable slowing of growth, albeit from a high base after two successive years of above average growth with revenue increases of 14.6% and 8.6% in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The firm’s international limited liability partnership accounts in February revealed that the firm’s underlying debt position has improved, with net debt down by 32% from £47.5m at the end of 2011/12 to £32.4m at the end of last financial year. The firm’s cash in the bank dropped nearly 15% from £35m to £29.9m.
The results follow a period of strategic expansion over the last twelve months, during which DLA has enhanced its presence in north, southern, and eastern Africa with the addition of three new member firms to its roster. Algerian firm B L & Associés, Rubeya & Co Advocates of Burundi and Namibian firm Ellis Shilengudwa joined the 4,200-lawyer firm’s Africa Group as of 1 October 2013.
It is also now well-established that DLA is focused on creating a presence in Canada, having recently entered into talks with the now-defunct local firm Heenan Blaikie, talks which subsequently collapsed earlier this month.
Key mandates secured by the firm last year included advising on the £300m sale of iconic footwear brand Dr Martens alongside Clifford Chance, and scoring a significant victory and $28m in damages for its client China Southern Airlines (CSA), after representing the airline in the High Court last summer over a contract dispute brought by commodity trader Tigris International.
The Legal Business Law Firm of the Year 2014 also recently announced a reshuffle of its senior management, with co-chief executive Nigel Knowles set to replace Tony Angel as global co-chairman, while London IP and technology partner Simon Levine has been proposed to serve as global-co CEO.
Other internal changes at the firm, which maintains two profit pools for its US and European/international businesses, saw a pay freeze imposed on staff in Australia in June last year, while last year was the first full year since its decision to move to an all equity partnership in May 2012.
Other international LB100 firms to announce their 2013 financials this month include transatlantic firm Hogan Lovells, which yesterday (27 February) unveiled its highest post-merger global financial results, posting a fee-income increase of 5.2% while profit per equity partner (PEP) and revenue per lawyer (RPL) increased by 10% and 3.7% respectively.