Withers saw profit per equity partner (PEP) enjoy a hefty rise over 2019/20, with a period of international expansion beginning to bear fruit at the top-30 LB100 firm. Revenue, meanwhile, enjoyed a double-digit rise as the firm steels itself for a ‘volatile’ year ahead.
PEP enjoyed a striking 41% hike to £501,000, up from £354,000 last year when partner profits endured a 12% drop, although the firm’s equity ranks did shrink by five partners across 2019/20. Overall profit now stands at £42.1m, a 34% increase, while revenues enjoyed a 14% rise to £219m, up from £193.2m.
Travers Smith has suffered one of its biggest financial setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, recording an 11% slump in net profit and a 20% fall in profit per equity partner (PEP), its provisional results revealed.
The provisional figures, announced on Thursday (30 July) show a 1% revenue drop to £160.9m from £162.5m last year, stymying a decade-long run of uninterrupted turnover growth. PEP fell to £1m, with the results being adversely affected by a reporting period that ran to the end of June, rather than April, giving the firm greater exposure to the pandemic downturn.
While few global firms expect to emerge unscathed from the Covid-19 crisis, Eversheds Sutherland (International) has nevertheless followed many peers in reporting robust revenue and profit increases in the 2019/20 financial year.
The figures released on Thursday (30 July) for the non-US parts of the business struck a bullish tone, with revenue up a solid 8% to £592m from £548.8m last year and a net profit increase of 5% to £108.8m
Profit per equity partner (PEP) also saw a slight 2% uptick to £902,000 on the back of last year’s 9% uptick to £886,000.
Whereas chief executive Lee Ranson (pictured) was last year nervous of a market slowdown as a result of Brexit, what he called ‘the uncertainty barometer’ has now shifted towards gloomy thoughts of a pandemic fallout.
‘These are a good set of results which were delivered against a challenging global economic and geopolitical landscape, compounded in the last two months of the financial year by Covid-19,’ said Ranson in a statement.
‘Our strategy has continued to drive strong growth while allowing us to make a number of significant investments across the year, specifically in people, property and our core and client-facing IT offerings.
‘While the business has responded well to the challenges and uncertainty created by the pandemic, and adapted quickly to the changing priorities and needs of our clients, there is no doubt that the year ahead will be testing for us all given the high levels of uncertainty across the world,’ Ranson concluded.
The sentiment is one that would be circulating around the Square Mile if law firm leaders were not all stuck at home. With the pandemic appearing only on the tail end of the 2019/20 reporting period, it is anyone’s guess as to how it will pan out in the financials for the current year.
Watson Farley & Williams is the latest City firm to post robust revenue and profit figures in the face of adversity in the 2019/20 financial year.
The firm said yesterday (29 July) that fee income was up 4% to £179.6m from last year’s £172.3m as profit per equity partner (PEP) saw a 3% uplift to £577,000 from £562,000. Profit was up a respectable 13% on last year to £53.7m from £47.5m, capping off a bullish set of results.
An institution’s values and commitment to inclusion are only real when tested. It is in challenging times that we decide whether we embrace those values and these are the defining moments that ultimately prove their worth. Amid a global pandemic, political upheavals, the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent movement that has flowed from his death, the profession’s actions will show if our values are either luxury items to be paraded when convenient or the rock on which we build our business.
It is precisely now beset by challenges that we need to put inclusion at the heart of our decisions. Leading law firms have often waxed lyrical about commitments to diversity; now is the moment to step up if we truly believe inclusion is a core value and an economic imperative.
Disputes specialist Stewarts has seen double-digit revenue growth for two years on the spin, posting an 11% increase in turnover to £77m for 2019/20, up from £69m from the previous financial year when it increased just shy of 11%. Profit per equity partner, meanwhile, saw a modest 3% increase to £1.25m; a needed rebound after the figure plummeted 16% in 2018/19.
The latest results show Stewarts’ continued recovery after its 2017/18 setback , where ‘non-linear’ income patterns from contingency work accounted for revenue falling by a fifth. The broader picture is that revenues over a five-year period have enjoyed a healthy uptick – rising almost 46%.
Given the savaging that Covid-19 has done to our collective sense of time, forgive a quick history lesson on the halcyon days of 2019. Pulling together the LB100 report for the 2018/19 period, Legal Business reflected: ‘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.’
Even the most casual reader of that year’s LB100 report would have noted the ominous imagery drawing on Conrad, Coppola and Castro as British institutions that summer buckled under the weight of entrenched discord. 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.
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has become the latest international firm to post resilient turnover growth in the face of the Covid-19 crisis but increased operating costs and a drop in productivity saw profits tumble in 2019/20.
Revenues at the Anglo-Australian giant increased 2.5% to £989.9m, up from £966m last year when revenues grew 4%. However, profits saw a significant decline, falling almost 8% to £283.2m while profit per equity partner dropped almost 10% to £857,000 from £949,000 last year.
Allen & Overy is confronting the must-solve issue of achieving ethnic diversity in City law with a raft of new targets aimed at levelling the playing field by 2025.
The set of targets includes having 15% of partners and 25% of lawyers and support staff identifying as ethnic minority in the next five years.
Clyde & Co has notched up its 22nd consecutive year of revenue growth, the firm’s latest financial results show, albeit with a slower turnover increase than the previous financial year and a modest dip in profit following internal investments.
Firmwide revenues were up 3% from £611m to £627m in 2019/20, a decrease on last year’s pacier 11% growth rate. Despite the reliable revenue growth, profit at the firm fell 5% to £143m ‘due to increased investment,’ while profit per equity partner (PEP) likewise dipped 4% to £665,000.