Legal Business 100: Main Menu

Legal Business 100: Main Menu


Marathon, not a sprint

Events since coronavirus hit should have triggered a crisis of epic proportions. But our LB100 report makes it clear that, against all odds, the starter pistol on panic has yet to be fired

Main table

Partner earnings table

Core stats

Second 25

The great leap upwards

After a year of triumph over adversity, the LB100’s chasing pack are priming themselves to reach new heights

Second 50: City and Boutique

Percentage play

While the performance of the mid-market and boutique London-based firms in the second 50 is more muted than other areas of the LB100, these firms pack a considerable punch

Second 50: Regional View

Faster, higher stronger

The regional firms in the second 50 of the LB100 have proved that their stamina and talent can help them rise to meet the toughest of challenges

Methodology and notes

The Last Word

Going the distance

LB100 leaders give their views on another remarkable year and offer their prognosis on the 12 months ahead


LB100 Overview: Marathon, not a sprint

LB100 Overview: Marathon, not a sprint

The phrase has long been a cliché among industry circles, but no-one is better at being cautiously optimistic than a law firm leader. For years, individuals have been compelled to temper any bullishness on market outlook with a healthy recognition that disaster is probably just around the corner. After all, few things make the sting of a downturn worse than the humiliation of hubris. Yet this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) has again seen all those risk-averse catastrophists not only surviving but thriving.

To say much has changed since our 2020 report would be an understatement. Last year in profit terms, the message was clear that firms were cutting their cloth accordingly in light of a seemingly inevitable bout of financial turbulence in the year to come. Continue reading “LB100 Overview: Marathon, not a sprint”

LB100 Second 25: The great leap upwards

LB100 Second 25: The great leap upwards

Analysing and then explaining the performance of the LB100’s 26-50 bracket is far from straightforward. The monumental disruption of the last year would seem to mandate a slip in standards or market activity at least somewhere, but across the board, leaders seem almost embarrassed by their near-universally buoyant performances.

Three of the top ten fastest-growing firms by revenue are in the 26-50 category, with expansive listed firm Knights the fastest in the entire LB100, after growing by 39%. Granted, Knights has bolted on a number of new offices to inflate the increase, but the acquisitiveness is representative of a flourishing market. Average revenue for the bracket increased by a respectable 4% to £154.7m, while average revenue per lawyer (RPL) remained flat at £273,000. Continue reading “LB100 Second 25: The great leap upwards”

LB100 Second 50: City and Boutique – Percentage play

LB100 Second 50: City and Boutique – Percentage play

The 21 London-based firms that sit in the second half of the LB100, many of which are specialist, focused players, are known for packing a punch that belies their size. These firms average 179 lawyers and 29 equity partners and have a combined turnover of more than £1bn. The group contains some of the strongest private wealth and family firms in the country (Boodle Hatfield, Farrer & Co, Forsters, Harbottle & Lewis, Payne Hicks Beach); the strongest disputes and tech firms (Bristows, Kingsley Napley, Stewarts, Wiggin); and the definitive boutique, pensions specialist Sacker & Partners.

Perhaps because many of these outfits were lean going into the pandemic, and perhaps also their service lines are tighter than firms elsewhere in the table, the changes overall have been less dramatic than elsewhere in the LB100. Average revenue is broadly in line, up 3% from £47m to £48.3m, with a revenue per lawyer (RPL) of £271,000. But in profitability terms, while these firms are clearly high-performing, the gains in the last financial year have been modest. Profit per lawyer (PPL) and profit per equity partner (PEP) are both up by just 2%, to £85,000 and £469,000 respectively. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50: City and Boutique – Percentage play”

LB100 Second 50: Regional View – Faster, higher, stronger

LB100 Second 50: Regional View – Faster, higher, stronger

The regional and smaller national firms that sit in the 51-100 bracket of the Legal Business 100 (LB100) have again proved their mettle. Twenty nine firms, with an average of 250 lawyers and 30 equity partners, have shone again.

Following last year’s 7% overall revenue growth, the group’s collective revenue was down to £1.41bn for 2020/21 – although there are two fewer firms in this category than last year. It is the average performance that tells the complete story: a striking revenue increase of 11% from £47m to £53m. This growth is also reflected in per lawyer metrics across the group. Revenue per lawyer (RPL) held steady at £192,000, but profit per lawyer (PPL) jumped 14% from £37,000 to £43,000. Average profit per equity partner (PEP), however, also moved up an impressive 8% to £352,000. And, while the performance of non-City firms in the second half of the LB100 is not nearly as strong on average metrics as their London counterparts (see part III), the gap is certainly narrowing and the firms in this group have far outperformed City and boutique firms on a year-on-year basis. Continue reading “LB100 Second 50: Regional View – Faster, higher, stronger”