The LB100 overview: Crisis? What crisis?

The LB100 overview: Crisis? What crisis?

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?”

LB100 Second 25: The ex-pistols

LB100 Second 25: The ex-pistols

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”

LB100 Second 50: London stalling?

LB100 Second 50: London stalling?

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?”

LB100 Second 50: Regional view – Comfortably numb

LB100 Second 50: Regional view – Comfortably numb

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”

LB100 case study: Harbottle & Lewis

LB100 case study: Harbottle & Lewis

Harbottle & Lewis maintained its status as one of London’s fastest growing law firms last year, with the West End firm continuing its recent trend of double-digit growth and proving itself as a Legal Business 100 (LB100) standout. Overall revenue increased by 26% to £35.5m, up from £28.1m last year, while profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 32% to £670,000 from £509,000 last year when the PEP figure suffered 2% decrease. Over the last five years, the firm has seen revenues grow 48% and profit by 86%. The favourable figures also saw Harbottles hustle its way into the top ten fastest-growing LB100 firms in both PEP and overall turnover, no mean feat considering the sharp-elbowed nature of London’s legal market.

The tip of Harbottles’ spear remains its private client and media and entertainment practices, recently strengthening the latter with the hire of ex-Barclays managing director Jonathan Burt from Harcus Sinclair, as the two practices saw a significant pick-up over the last 12 months contributing to strong growth at the firm. Continue reading “LB100 case study: Harbottle & Lewis”

LB100 case study: Shepherd and Wedderburn

LB100 case study:  Shepherd and Wedderburn

Scotland’s third-largest firm by revenue, Shepherd and Wedderburn, had largely been thought to have fallen behind Brodies and Burness Paull recently. However, Shepherd has matched the revenue growth of its larger peers over the last five years, up 49%. And after a dip in 2016/17, revenue and profit both returned to growth this year, up 6% and 10% respectively. Revenue now sits at £53.5m and profit £22m, while profit per equity partner (PEP) increased more than 15% to £403,000.

Highlights from the year included advising FanDuel on its proposed merger with Paddy Power Betfair, as well as becoming the first top-100 UK law firm to offer funded litigation in partnership with Burford Capital. Chief executive Stephen Gibb (pictured) says real estate and corporate have been particularly busy, with deal activity flowing through into the start of this financial year: the firm advised fintech company Nucleus Financial Group on its £140m AIM listing in July, for instance. Continue reading “LB100 case study: Shepherd and Wedderburn”

LB100 case study: Clifford Chance

LB100 case study: Clifford Chance

The only firm among London’s big four to have retained its position in the Legal Business 100 table, Clifford Chance (CC) is the second-largest UK-bred shop after DLA Piper, having added £83m to its top line to hit £1.623bn.

But if the 5% uptick in revenue is broadly comparable to Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, it is the 16% surge in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £1.6m where CC has edged ahead of its rivals. Continue reading “LB100 case study: Clifford Chance”