A year of two halves for White & Case as City revenue drops after tricky start to 2019

A year of two halves for White & Case as City revenue drops after tricky start to 2019

White & Case’s City revenue fell almost 4% over the last financial year following a ‘challenging’ start to 2019, while growth in global turnover also slowed.

London revenue last year dropped to $337m from $350m after a blistering 2018 on the back of a dynamic lateral hiring spree. Continue reading “A year of two halves for White & Case as City revenue drops after tricky start to 2019”

Quinn breaks £100m City revenue barrier as King & Spalding hikes London revenue 15%

Quinn breaks £100m City revenue barrier as King & Spalding hikes London revenue 15%

Disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has continued its impressive growth in the City, with revenue at the firm’s London office increasing 20% to £100.6m.

The US-bred firm also saw profits rise 11% to £67.2m, putting the office’s profit margin at 66.7%. The results cement Quinn’s place as ‘unquestionably the market leader in litigation-only practices in London,’ according to senior partner of the London office Richard East. Continue reading “Quinn breaks £100m City revenue barrier as King & Spalding hikes London revenue 15%”

MoFo ups City revenue an impressive 25% as US reporting season begins

MoFo ups City revenue an impressive 25% as US reporting season begins

Morrison & Foerster (MoFo)’s City revenue has lifted 25% for a third consecutive year, outpacing a strong global showing and kicking off US reporting season with a showing of expansive City growth.

The firm’s revenue increase to £38.6m comes amid a 10% global increase in the last fiscal year, from $1.04bn to $1.15bn. Meanwhile, revenue per lawyer grew 4% and profit per partner grew 5% to the highest levels in the firm’s history at just over $2m. Continue reading “MoFo ups City revenue an impressive 25% as US reporting season begins”

Comment: US firms in London – ‘We haven’t been bullish enough!’

Comment: US firms in London – ‘We haven’t been bullish enough!’

There was never any doubt that 2018 would prove another good year for US law firms in London coming off what has been a great decade for the breed. But it is only when you start to pull together the numbers that you realise how fast the City legal market is shifting in favour of American entrants. Legal Business has a reputation for being bullish on US firms in London. These numbers indicate that we haven’t been bullish enough. There are now more than 7,000 lawyers working in the London offices of the top 50 largest practices in London. Even stripping out the impact of including the legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner’s City practice, that’s an annual increase of 7%, a startling growth rate and one that is actually accelerating even as many expected investment in London to slow in the face of the UK’s looming exit from the EU. Continue reading “Comment: US firms in London – ‘We haven’t been bullish enough!’”

Global London comment: Brexit looms but the $20m partner is coming

Global London comment: Brexit looms but the $20m partner is coming

Striking numbers abound in this year’s Global London table, if you are into that kind of thing. The three pace-setting US brands in London – Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and White & Case – are all generating in the $300m region in the Square Mile, last year saw the first $10m lateral and my back-of-the-envelope scribbling indicates that the top 50 US firms are pulling in around $5bn in the UK.

The market is increasingly now defined by this trio, predictably so in the case of Latham, though City lawyers are still trying to get their heads around the idea of Kirkland and White & Case as mounting a frontal challenge. A few years ago, I’d have been equally sceptical, particularly in the latter’s case, but if there is a glaring hole in the game plan of these two outfits, they are hiding it well. With all three making ground in mainstream transactional work through 2017 and securing significant hires – the idea that certain kinds of M&A will remain the preserve of City advisers over the next three years looks fanciful. Continue reading “Global London comment: Brexit looms but the $20m partner is coming”

Swoop to conquer – a turbulent year for US firms in London but no retreat

Swoop to conquer – a turbulent year for US firms in London but no retreat

Legal Business‘s 15th annual Global London survey assesses the impact of a seismic year on the City’s leading US and foreign practices

The vultures have been circling. Partner hires hit new heights among the 50 firms that comprise our Global London table this year, but overall the City’s US shops have remained steady after a period that saw the UK economy rocked by last year’s Brexit vote and the legal market witness its largest European firm collapse.

Continue reading “Swoop to conquer – a turbulent year for US firms in London but no retreat”

Focus: Dechert

Focus: Dechert

London office headcount: 165 lawyers, 42 partners

Fee-earner headcount change since 2011: +72%

London office management committee: Camille Abousleiman (chair), Jason Butwick, Gus Black and Miriam Gonzalez

Office speciality: Private equity, finance, litigation/investigations

Representative London work: Advising UK oil and gas independent Chrysaor Holdings’ $3bn acquisition of a package of assets in the UK North Sea from Shell.

 

‘We only arrived towards the end of last year and have had a strong start, signing deals during our first two months which originated at our prior firms.’
Ross Allardice, Dechert

 

 

Despite securing the first major US takeover of a London firm back in 2000, Dechert has since been largely viewed as strategically cautious and lacking visibility in the City. However, the Philadelphia-bred firm has been making notable efforts to make up ground in the last year or so.

As US firms continue their push in London, Dechert has found added momentum, reporting a solid growth in City income last year (notable compared to the 10% slide in its revenues in 2015), aided by a 30% jump in headcount and a number of high-profile hires.

Significant laterals in 2016 include high-profile City duo Ross Allardice from White & Case and John Markland from Kirkland & Ellis, who arrived last November in the firm’s private equity (PE) and finance practices.

Earlier in the year, Dechert turned to DLA Piper for finance partners Philip Butler and David Miles to enhance its direct lending business (Butler was DLA’s global head of leveraged finance). And most recently in the City, Dechert hired Clifford Chance’s litigation partner Stephen Surgeoner.

The firm also recorded a significant uplift in instructions last year. These include advising Magyar Telekom on the sale of its holding in the Invitel Group to the China-CEE Investment Fund and representing Ziarco’s shareholders on its sale to Novartis, led by corporate partner Graham Defries.

Other noteworthy Dechert London partners include head of structured and real estate finance Charles Malpass, and co-chair of the firm’s international trade and government regulation Miriam Gonzalez, whom the firm also hired from DLA in 2011. However, finance partners at rival firms argue that despite its US strength and its recent City push, Dechert will continue to struggle due to its lack of bank panel relationships.

‘Dechert is trying to operate how DLA did, but it has the weakness of not being on panels like other City firms are. This is not a problem for firms like Latham, because its work is not fee-sensitive,’ says a senior City finance partner.

However, Dechert’s head of corporate in London, Douglas Getter, argues changes to the credit markets have altered the dynamic.

‘Phil [Butler] and Dave [Miles] are a good example of the synergies between traditional and alternative lenders. They started at DLA and did bank work for over 20 years. By the time we met them, their work had evolved to almost 75% for direct lenders,’ he says.

And, while Dechert’s City history suggests it has not been fulfilling its potential, sustained expansion in the firm’s core areas – PE, finance and investigations, as well as life sciences, financial services M&A and international arbitration – seems to be working.

The same month it hired Allardice and Markland, Dechert picked up a first-time instruction for key White & Case client Mid Europa Partners on the largest PE deal in Romania.

Allardice comments: ‘We only arrived towards the end of last year and have had a strong start during this period, signing deals during our first two months which originated at our prior firms. This momentum has continued into 2017.’

Getter adds: ‘What the firm does very well is allowing the people in Europe to do European and UK deals without people coming over from the US. It’s to do with trust. The biggest deals we’ve done here are self-originated. We are 160 lawyers and certainly not a satellite office for the US.’

Regarding the firm’s strategic direction, New York, London and Hong Kong remain the key geographies in general, with Germany and Paris regarded as underweight and where the firm is paying particular attention to growth in the short term.

‘Now we’re looking to continue building our platform. Our USP is to represent funds in everything they do, both under US and UK law, and that’s the position we have put ourselves in,’ Getter concludes.

Georgiana Tudor

Continue reading “Focus: Dechert”