Brexit negotiations stalling, trade wars looming, the high street hit by a raft of collapses – at first sight, there is plenty to suggest the UK has taken a trip back in time. Yet for those with a finger on the pulse in the City, it will come as no surprise to find this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) speaks of a standout year for Britain’s legal elite. Turmoil has mattered very little against the backdrop of booming transactional activity, interest rates near historic lows and the cheap pound.
While commercial lawyers spoke with wary optimism of healthy markets in the summer of 2017, caution progressively turned into bemused enthusiasm as the City realised it was living through its busiest winter for years during a period that seemed to resemble the Winter of Discontent. By spring, some were hailing the best financial year since the banking crisis. This year’s survey confirms that there is some substance to such claims. Continue reading “The LB100 overview: Crisis? What crisis?”
The story of last year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) was the emergence of a group of mobile mid-tier outfits that were threatening to take the market by storm. For some, that has become a reality, with the pacesetting Fieldfisher surging into the top 25 on the back of another stellar year. For those it left behind in the 26-50 bracket, the going has been generally tougher.
Despite a modest 5% jump in average revenue to £122.6m for the mid-market cohort, there was a 3% slump in average profit per lawyer to £65,000. Average revenue per lawyer also slipped 2% to £267,000, although there was a 3% rise in the average profit per equity partner (PEP) figure to £501,000. Continue reading “LB100 Second 25: The ex-pistols”
With initial post-referendum Brexit shock giving way to pre-breakaway uncertainty, the boutique and mid-market London firms in the second half of the Legal Business 100 are maintaining a brave front in the face of political and economic uncertainty.
Overall the story is encouraging for London firms in the second 50, with total revenue up 6% to £774m, with an average revenue of £40.7m across the 19 City firms in the second – the same number as last year. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) spiked by 12% to £409,000. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50: London stalling?”
Consolidation, planning, investment and ‘cautious optimism’ proved dominant themes for the smaller regional and national firms in this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100). The 31 non-City firms in the 51-100 bracket grew steadily amid a slow summer and dip in confidence during the 2016/17 financial year. Last year, however, the group’s collective revenue only managed a weak 1% rise to £1.27bn, with an average revenue of £41m. While real estate and construction continue to boom, deal flows are noticeably beginning to slow for many.
While regional firms are typically less productive per capita than London counterparts, that gap has widened. Revenue per lawyer was £181,000, down 8% and much lower than the £264,000 in London. Profits tell a similar story: profit per lawyer down 10% at £38,000, against £80,000 in the City. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50: Regional view – Comfortably numb”
A light has lately shone on a legal document which, by definition, should never bask in the sunshine. The saga, which was to trigger reverberations concerning abusive behaviour in many industries – and lawyers’ role in drafting gagging orders – began in October 2017, with disclosures by British producer Zelda Perkins (pictured).
In written evidence to MPs, Perkins called the gagging order she signed nearly 20 years ago with her former boss Harvey Weinstein amid sexual harassment allegations ‘stringent and thoroughly egregious’. Continue reading “Draining the swamp – Do NDAs represent a #MeToo problem for the profession?”
James Tsolakis, NatWest: One of the great challenges setting this up with Alex is in the long period I have been a banker to the legal profession, the rate of change is faster than I have seen for a long time. The challenge was defining the discussion. It could have been IPOs, artificial intelligence, international expansion – any number of things. I am pleased we chose a subject that will ultimately touch all these other subjects driving change in the sector.
Alex Novarese, Legal Business: Kicking off, Sharon, what worries you about talent? Continue reading “The talent debate: The war rages on”
Alex Speirs: Now less than a year out from the UK’s scheduled withdrawal from the EU, how would you characterise the current state of negotiations?
Dominic Grieve: They’re not going well at all. We are not talking the same language. The UK is seeking a bespoke deal recognising our past membership of the EU, our desire to maintain very close links with the EU in a wide range of fields, to have as near frictionless as possible trade in goods and services, and to participate in a vast range of EU peripheral activities. But we want freedom to operate our own immigration policy, not have freedom of movement, the ability to do third-country trade agreements and the ability to deregulate or change the regulatory framework in areas. Continue reading “Grieve on Brexit: No great advantage”
Richard Lissack QC: David, why a career in the law?
Lord Neuberger: It was after cancelling out other possibilities. I was a scientist at university – a chemist. I was influenced by my father, a successful scientist. I quickly proved to be an unsuccessful scientist. I went to career advisers. They said do law or go into the City. In those days the City involved no exams and law did, so I went into the City. Continue reading “The one true law – in conversation with Lord Neuberger”
LB: What’s been happening in the two years since the Canada tie-up?
David Fennell (DF), chief executive: One of the reasons for doing that combination was access to the US market, so our US sales are up by 18% year-on-year. Continue reading “The LB interview: Gowling WLG”