Shipping and insurance specialist Ince & Co has had another disappointing year financially, with revenue down 4% from £79.4m to £76.2m. This follows on from an 8% drop in turnover last year from £86.7m, which was the worst income drop of all the UK’s top 100 law firms in 2014/15.
Scottish independent Shepherd and Wedderburn has enjoyed a third year of consecutive growth with revenues up 10% to £53m. Similarly profits have increased by 20% to £21.5m.
While 2015’s Global 100 showed signs of regained momentum, the intervening year saw some contenders come to a shuddering halt. Legal Business looks at the few setting the pace and those faltering in the global race.
In the early hours of 24 June, the unthinkable happened. The UK had voted to leave the European Union by the narrowest of margins, sending stocks plummeting when the London Stock Exchange began trading. Sterling fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985. And while the panic had dissipated after several chaotic days, around the world shockwaves were being keenly felt.
The firms that appear in the 2016 Global 100 are the largest 100 law firms in the world ranked by revenue.
The headline numbers from this year’s Global 100 report do not make upbeat reading, even before the Brexit effect and resulting vote began to chill the market in Europe. While total revenue moved forward 3% to $95.99bn and lawyer headcount grew 6% to 122,945, the per lawyer and per equity partner metrics are flat: average revenue and profit per lawyer (RPL and PPL) are down 2% to $781,000 and $308,000 respectively, while average profit per equity partner (PEP) stood still at $1.6m.
With income growth flattered by consolidation – primarily Dentons’ merger-mania and the digestion of Bingham McCutchen – the world’s 100 largest firms are not, as a breed, growing at all.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer posted a revenue increase of 7% to £1.327bn for the 2015/16 financial year, clawing back from last year’s flat results when revenues rose just 1% to £1.245bn. The increase puts the firm well ahead of Magic Circle peers Clifford Chance (CC) and Allen & Overy (A&O), which posted revenue increases of 3% and 2.3% respectively.
The fashion is for UK firms to announce good results early and first out of the blocks this year have been Osborne
Clarke (OC), Forsters, TLT and Browne Jacobson all posting robust results for the financial year 2015/16.
OC was the first of the Legal Business 100 to release figures this year, with a 23% rise in global revenues to €236.3m. As the firm posted a UK revenue rise of 17% from £96.5m in 2015 to £112.9m, managing partner Ray Berg identified OC’s sector focus as a factor in its continued success.