Will this year’s Global London report chronicle the high watermark for the Square Mile as a global hub for foreign law firms? The possibility has to be considered with the article 50 notice about to be delivered as I type these words, representing the biggest threat to London’s position since the 1990s’ run-up to the launch of the euro.
As it stands, foreign advisers continued to aggressively invest in London through 2016. The number of London-based lawyers employed at the 50 largest foreign firms, now numbers 6,033, an increase of 22% over the last two years despite a generally subdued UK legal services market. The elimination of King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) from our tables this year understates the growth through the last 12 months but in underlying terms, headcount probably grew at least 4% even allowing for the re-allocation of legacy SJ Berwin lawyers to US rivals. Given the KWM implosion, it was unsurprisingly a record year for partner recruitment, with nearly 200 laterals within the group. The overall pace of growth, however, slowed somewhat on 2015.