UK’s top 20 law firms – Winners and losers

Posted on: July 16, 2009

The Lawyer magazine recently wrote “The Magic Circle is redrawn…Clifford Chance relegated to third place…Lovells set to overtake Slaughter & May”. It showed the top 20 in terms of 2009 revenues as follows:

Rank Firm 09Rev(£m)08Rev(£m)PEP 2009(£K)
1 Linklaters 1,298 1,293 1,302
2 Freshfields 1,287 1,178 1,440
3 Clifford Chance 1,262 1,330 733
4 Allen & Overy TBC 1,016 TBC
5 DLA Piper 584 503 645
6 Lovells 531 479 585
7 Slaughter & May TBC 479 2,250
8 Herbert Smith 444 421 808
9 Eversheds 366 390 404
10 Norton Rose 314 297 517
11 Ashurst 301 323 TBC
12 Simmons & Simmo TBC 289 TBC
13 CMS Cameron McK 240 235 554
14 SJ Berwin TBC 215 TBC
15 Pinsent Masons 215 213 TBC
16 Clyde & Co 185 157 550
17 Berwin Leighton TBC 186 TBC
18 Taylor Wessing TBC 185 TBC
19 Addleshaw Godd 173 195 TBC
20 Denton Wilde Sa 169 164 300

Taking into account more recent news reports, some of the other highlights amongst the largest UK firms:

WINNERS
• Linklaters becomes Britain’s highest grossing law firm and pushes ahead with profits increase (Project New World restructuring appears to be paying off)
• Bird & Bird revenues up 29% (but a 6.5% PEP fall)
• Mills & Reeve revenues increase 7%
• Freshfields overtakes Clifford Chance as top UK firm by size
• Bevan Brittan profits up 56% to £8.6m – PEP rose 23% to £222K

LOSERS
• Clifford Chance out of No 1 slot – revenue decline of 5% and PEP just half of Freshfields and Linklaters
• Shoosmiths profits fall by more than half
• Norton Rose PEP falls by 17% but turnover edges up
• Allen & Overy PEP falls but it remains in the £1m club
• Osborne Clarke PEP falls 36% and revenue by 12%
• Simons & Simons PEP falls 20% and turnover remains stagnant

Currency issues appear to have given an advantage to some firms. There is generally a view that demand is shifting from UK City and Magic Circle firms to the regional firms. Looking at the top accountants (see earlier post), 4 out of 5 of the top 50 reported slower growth last year.

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