They said rapid growth is hard if you are already big. Last year it hiked revenue 19% from $2.65bn. They said profitability is about focusing on quality over growth. As it became the highest grossing law firm in the world, fee-earner headcount surged 13.5% to over 2,000 and profit per equity partner (PEP) was up nearly 15% to $4.7m. They said a sprawling international footprint is essential if you want to secure high-end mandates. It has just 14 offices – only five outside the US – and generated $3.165bn in 2017. They said global law firms need bank clients. It is famously dismissive of banks and their onerous panels.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Kirkland & Ellis’ meteoric rise over the last decade is how it turned BigLaw’s playbook on its head. The Chicago-bred giant has not only outperformed the profession’s elites in London and New York but challenged the very assumptions underpinning the legal industry’s decades-spanning pecking order. Continue reading “Global 100: Wrecking ball – Inside Kirkland & Ellis’ creative destruction”
It has been a dramatic year for the world’s top 100 law firms in three respects. Our prediction that the group would break the $100bn barrier by the end of 2016 did not quite happen in last year’s report, but that barrier has been smashed a year later with total revenue for these firms rising 6% to reach $104.42bn. The indomitable US disruptors Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins ramped up growth substantially to make this the year of the $3bn law firm. Lastly, Kirkland hiked revenue by more than $500m to surpass Latham with a 19% surge to $3.165bn.
Two years on from events that threatened to destabilise the global economy – the UK’s shock vote for Brexit and Trump’s election as the leader of the free world – the harbingers of doom appear to have been wrong. While no self-respecting lawyer would admit to a lull in activity, the figures speak to a market that has not only withstood turbulence but flourished. Overall, it was one of the stronger underlying performances in the elite group since the banking crisis thanks to active deal markets and a robust global economy. Continue reading “Global 100 Overview: They might be giants”
The clichéd view of the Asia legal market is that it is a very difficult place for international firms to make money. Recent economic underperformance in China has not helped, although the flurry of office openings, hires and deals in the region over the last 12 months would suggest otherwise. Local alliances are the current vogue in China, with the likes of Linklaters and Ashurst opting for these often-complex arrangements.
But while the Asia region is dominated by China, based on recent activity it would seem the so-called secondary markets, like Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia, could be lucrative areas of interest. As Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) Greater China managing partner May Tai notes: ‘China remains the driver of growth and the story of our careers. However, activity in South-East Asia is just as busy, from the developed markets of Singapore and Malaysia to rapidly emerging markets, such as Laos and Cambodia.’ Continue reading “Global 100 Asia Focus: Long-term greedy”