Der Freshfields-Skandal

It’s 9 September in the German parliament. Stefan Liebich of the democratic socialist party, Die Linke, stands up to quiz finance minister Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrat Party. His question: ‘Have there been any thoughts on your part whether firms like Freshfields or others should be excluded from receiving future instructions?’

Scholz responds: ‘In relation to the law firm you mentioned… I cannot imagine that new assignments will be placed there’. Continue reading “Der Freshfields-Skandal”

LB100 overview: The end of the beginning 

Could anyone have known what was coming? A year ago, the 2019 Legal Business 100 (LB100) report read: ‘After a credible performance, the profession now faces a slowing economy at home and abroad amid mounting unease generated by a government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson hitting an increasingly Trumpian tone on forcing the UK out of the EU.’

The report – coming as it did before Johnson’s landslide general election victory – drew on ominous imagery of Conrad, Coppola and Castro – reflecting a very palpable fear that it might be ‘Apocalypse soon?’ The message was clear, leading law firms, which increased revenues by 9% across the LB100 to hit £26.35bn, had performed well but an outlook clouded by a slowing economy, Brexit uncertainty and political instability meant harder times were coming. Continue reading “LB100 overview: The end of the beginning ”

LB100 Second 25: Once more unto the breach

A 10% jump in average revenue to £149.2m for firms ranked 26-50 in the LB100 appears to extend the robust fighting spirit of this group from last year – again eclipsing a more sedate 5% increase among the top ten and top 25 – but, as usual, this fails to tell the whole story.

In 2019 it was Womble Bond Dickinson’s transatlantic merger that inflated revenue and catapulted it into the top quartile at the expense of Fieldfisher. This year, the addition of listed firms Slater and Gordon and Ince Group has bolstered the £3.7bn total revenues of the second 25 by almost £300m and explains much of the leap. Continue reading “LB100 Second 25: Once more unto the breach”

LB100 Second 50 – City and Boutique: Focus for victory

The combined turnover for the 19 London firms that sit in the second half of this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) is £894.1m, an increase of 6% but the addition of one extra firm in this group compared to last year has seen average revenue grow just 1% to £47m. However, it is in profitability terms where this group really excels: comprising Stewarts, Sacker & Partners (see case study), Fladgate and Harbottle & Lewis, this is a collection of firms that truly punch above their weight. Average profit per lawyer (PPL) is £83,000 and profit per equity partner (PEP) stands at £460,000 – an increase of 8% on last year and bucking the trend of suppressed PEP growth in other parts of the LB100.

And it is the firms that have focused practices that have excelled once more. Technology and IP firm Bristows recorded double-digit revenue and PEP growth up 12% and 16% to £50.9m and £486,000 respectively. Harbottle & Lewis, which has a large number of private clients and was again shortlisted for Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in 2020 on the back of a striking run that has seen turnover grow 91% in five years, had another strong year in 2019/20. Turnover was up 6%, meaning the firm has moved past the £40m-revenue barrier, while PEP was up 14% to an impressive £718,000. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50 – City and Boutique: Focus for victory”

LB100 Second 50 – Regional view: Make do and mend

While smaller regional and national firms gained significant ground on their London rivals in last year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) after years of the productivity gap widening in favour of the City, they have upped the ante again this year. Some of the strongest performers from the 31 regional firms in the 51-100 bracket have shown a resilience that sets them apart.

Following last year’s 7% overall revenue growth, the group’s collective revenue rose a Covid-defying 7% again to £1.46bn in 2019/20, for an average revenue of £47m. However, productivity per capita at regional firms, although always traditionally weaker than London counterparts in the Second 50, saw some retrenchment. Revenue per lawyer dropped 2% to £193,000, while profit per lawyer also fell 2% to £37,000. Average profit per equity partner (PEP), however, managed to move up 4% to £352,000. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50 – Regional view: Make do and mend”