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‘We’ve had our best year ever in the UK and US’ – Linklaters breaks £2bn revenue barrier with double-digit growth

Linklaters has become the first magic circle firm to announce its 2023-24 financial results, breaking through the £2bn mark for the first time after a double digit increase in revenue.

The firm confirmed record revenue and profits, with revenue climbing 10% from £1.901bn last year to £2.1bn, and pre-tax profit climbing 10.3% to £942m, from last year’s figure of £854m.

This translated to an 8% increase in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £1.9m while average profits across all partners climbed to £1.8m.

The firm highlighted its UK and US operations as standout performers, stating that both had posted their best-ever results. Its US revenues climbed by 24%. Linklaters’ most recent Companies House filing for the financial year ending April 2023 showed that the firm’s global revenue included £823.1m from the UK and £122.2m from the Americas.

Linklaters managing partner Paul Lewis told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been very strong globally – we’ve had our best year ever in the UK and US, Europe has been very strong and, notwithstanding a challenging market in China, you can look across the firm and it’s been strong across the board.’

‘We want to be bigger in the US’, he added, pointing to the January hire of a six-lawyer M&A team from Shearman & Sterling as a statement of intent. Led by Legal 500 Hall of Famer for $1bn-plus M&A deals George Casey, the team also includes partners Heiko Schiwek and Gregory Gewirtz.

‘The team hire in January has been a real success on all fronts. That was the start and by no means the end and we are actively looking to hire more. We’ve changed the system so that we have the ability to pay at very competitive levels,’ Lewis continued.

Discussing the practice drivers for the firm’s growth, Lewis said: ‘As part of our strategy, we’ve focused on six areas: high-end M&A, contentious mandates, complex financings, restructuring and insolvency, energy transition and tech. We’ve focused on investing in those areas, including lateral hires and partner elections, and when I look across the piece at the results, we’re on track and those investments are working.’

In the deals arena, Linklaters is advising UK drinks maker Britvic on its takeover by Carlsberg for £3.3bn, opposite Baker McKenzie. The firm is also advising UK homebuilder Barratt Developments on its proposed £2.5bn merger with Redrow, as well as multinational packaging group Mondi on its £5bn acquisition of DS Smith.

In restructuring, Linklaters’ team advised Crédit Agricole on the cross-border restructuring of global engineering and construction business McDermott International. Meanwhile, in disputes, the firm took on competition litigation mandates for Visa and has also been advising Experian on data protection related challenges.

Linklaters elected 27 new partners and 49 new counsel in its most recent promotion round, meeting its 40% global gender diversity target for female partner promotions, and its 15% target for under-represented minority ethnic partners (UK and US). The firm also recorded 55,000 hours globally on pro-bono work – its highest ever.

However the firm has seen a number of exits over the last year, with public M&A partner Dan Schuster-Woldan and antitrust partner Nicole Kar both leaving to join Paul Weiss’s ambitious London office.

Although Linklaters has changed its partner remuneration structure to make it easier to compete with high-paying US firms, Lewis stressed that competition goes beyond money.

He said: ‘It’s not all about money. It’s about doing the best work for the best clients. We are in 21 jurisdictions, and we can offer high-end, elite advice in all the places we are in. That is a competitive advantage because you’re trying to do the big complex, cross-border matters and that’s where we excel, with our seamless network making the difference.’

‘We’re focused on what we can deliver rather than worrying too much about what others are doing,’ he concluded.