Magic Circle sees revenues up after muted financial year

Turnover at Magic Circle firms rose by a modest 2.6% this year, with the UK’s five Global Elite firms pulling in over £5.2bn of fees and £4.2bn worth of profit in the 2011/12 financial year.

As the UK’s financial reporting season kicks off, Allen & Overy emerges as one of the top performers after another strong year that saw turnover climb by 5% to reach £1.18bn, up from £1.12bn in 2010/11. The firm is one of the best performing in the group over the past five years, growing revenues by an average of 3% each year since 2008. Much of that can be attributed to the firm’s network in emerging markets, with around 15% of A&O’s lawyers now based in Asia.

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Ashurst pushes ahead with Beijing and Seoul launches

Ashurst is preparing to move into Seoul and is applying for a licence to practise in Beijing, as the firm looks to leverage off its recent tie-up with Australian firm Blake Dawson to bulk up in Asia.

Geoffrey Green, managing partner of Ashurst Asia, said it was vital to grow the firm’s Asian presence. ‘Ashurst has been relatively lightly represented in Asia. Compared to our competitors we are pretty underweight in Asia and given the fact the world is moving further east, that’s where the growth opportunities are,’ he said.

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Shakespeares and Harvey Ingram announce merger

Acquisitive Birmingham firm Shakespeares has continued its explosive growth of the last few years by announcing that it is set to combine with Leicester-based stalwart Harvey Ingram on 1 August 2012.

At press time both firms were expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a union in a partners’ ballot at each firm at the end of June, according to Shakespeares’ commercial director Hamish Munro.

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Scottish fire sale continues as DWF snaps up Biggart Baillie

Merger fever continues to grip the Scottish legal market after veteran firm Biggart Baillie announced in June that it would be joining forces with ambitious Major UK firm DWF on 1 July.

The merger between Biggart Baillie, a Scottish blueblood which can trace its origins back to 1894, and LB’s 2011 National/Regional firm of the Year DWF, is the fifth Anglo-Scottish union since the start of the year. It follows a joint venture between DAC Beachcroft and Andersons, which was announced in March; the acquisition of niche Scottish practice Anderson Fyfe by TLT, which takes effect in July; the announcement in June that Shoosmiths would acquire Archibald Campbell & Harley; and the high-profile merger of Pinsent Masons and McGrigors, which went live on 1 May.

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NHSLA looks to control growing legal spend in panel review

Newly appointed NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) chief executive Catherine Dixon’s priority will be getting value for money and using law firms to engage with NHS trusts as she prepares for a legal panel review later this year.

Dixon joined the NHSLA in April from the NSPCC where she was general counsel and company secretary. She was previously head of legal at Bupa and in private practice at Eversheds. She replaces outgoing NHSLA chief executive Steve Walker.

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FSA scrutiny increases financial service practitioners’ workload

Financial regulation partners are now in even higher demand as financial institution clients panic after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently fined former J.P. Morgan Cazenove banker Ian Hannam £450,000 for market abuse.

The financial watchdog issued the fine against Hannam after he allegedly shared financial information ahead of a deal, violating the so-called ‘wall-crossing’ rule.

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Mixed fortunes for mid-market in tough Scots climate

TLT’s recent takeover of niche Scottish firm Anderson Fyfe is the latest chapter in a flurry of movement among mid-market firms in Scotland trying to secure their futures amid pernicious market conditions.

The Bristol-based firm is set to acquire Anderson Fyfe’s Glasgow and Edinburgh operations from July, while simultaneously launching a Northern Ireland practice through the lateral hire of banking litigation partner Katharine Kimber from Belfast firm Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors.

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Emerging markets dominate 2012 partner promotions round

Good news for senior associates in emerging markets: there are now more partners than ever being made up in Asia. If you are an aspiring associate in Asia or Australia you stand a much greater chance of making partner at a UK firm now than five years ago. According to data collected by LB, this year the UK’s top 25 firms made up 48 partners in Asia, compared to just 26 in 2008.

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Australia tempts yet another major international player

Linklaters has joined the ranks of its Magic Circle peers by moving into the Australian market via an alliance with Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR).

The alliance, which went through on 1 May, was planned over a year ago, according to a source close to the firm. AAR, which had operated an exclusive relationship with Slaughter and May, is viewed by many as one of the best in the region.

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