The first set of corporate law firm financial results are looking strong

Avatar photo

By Alex Aldridge on

Good times return to the City

It’s corporate law firm financial results season — and the early signs for the year are very positive.

Of the 12 major corporate law firms to have released their results so far, all have posted a rise in revenue while those that released profit per equity partner (PEP) figures have reported increases too.

Leading the way in the revenue rise table is CMS, with a whopping 31% increase to £1.3 billion, followed by Fieldfisher, which is up 24% to £207 million, and Dentons UKMEA, up by 22% to £203.1 million. While these turnover boosts have been significantly aided by mergers — CMS with Nabarro and Olswang, Fieldfisher with Hill Hofstetter, and Dentons with Maclay Murray & Spens — the performance of other firms suggests the increases are about more than that.

Osborne Clarke, for example, has seen revenue jump by 14%, while Simmons & Simmons and Taylor Wessing are both up by 12%. Meanwhile, TLT, Browne Jacobson, Winckworth Sherwood, Pinsent Masons and Ashurst have seen turnover rises of, respectively, 10%, 9%, 8.5%, 6% and 4%.

The strongest performers for PEP increases so far have been Dentons, with a 36% jump to £651,000, Taylor Wessing, which rocketed by 20% to £579,000. There were impressive increases, too, at CMS (19%), Fieldfisher (17%), Eversheds Sutherland (12%) and Ashurst (11%).

The figures reflect the wave of growth that swept across the globe during 2017, and which the President Trump tax cuts at the beginning of this year may extend — if the accompanying protectionist policies being pursued by the US don’t negate their effect.

But the improvement of law firms’ overall fortunes come at a time of uncertainty for students seeking to enter the legal profession. Legal Cheek reported in the autumn that training contracts at the leading corporate law firms fell by 5% last year, while the latest Law Society Annual Statistical Report showed training contract numbers across the profession as a whole to have fallen back slightly. On the rise have been law firm investment in technology, and a growing reluctance among clients to pay for trainees’ time.

Still, with 5,719 students beginning training contracts last year — down from a 2008 high of 6,303 but up from a financial crisis low of 4,784 — the legal profession remains a pretty healthy place for graduates.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

Related Stories

The uncomfortable truth behind top UK law firms’ growth figures

Weak pound disguises some mediocre recent performances

Nov 13 2017 9:12am

Where will corporate law firms be ten years from now?

Pinsent Masons partner Richard Masters draws on 30 years of practice to forecast what comes next

Jul 10 2017 10:08am