City firms continue to reveal 2021 financial results

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By Thomas Connelly on

Mixed fortunes for Ashurst, Simmons, Dentons, DWF and Gateley

City law firms continue to reveal strong financial results despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ashurst today confirmed revenue rose 10% from £644 million to £711 million, while profit per equity partner (PEP) hit £1.04 million — an uptick of 15% on the previous financial year.

The silver circle player said it had witnessed an “impressive performance” in corporate work, in particular in the UK, Germany, and Australia, “driven by a strong appetite for M&A as companies reshape for a post-pandemic future”.

Paul Jenkins, Ashurst’s global managing partner, said: “We continued our financial growth trajectory with strong FY21 results, marking the fifth consecutive year of revenue growth for the firm. While some practices and markets during the early part of the financial year were impacted by the pandemic, we continued to support clients as they navigated ongoing challenges and the firm experienced strong trading performance from the end of Q1 which produced a very good set of full year results.”

Fellow City outfit Simmons & Simmons also posted strong results, with revenue up 12% on the previous financial year to reach £437 million. Meanwhile, PEP rocketed by 30% to £980,000 and profit enjoyed a similarly impressive boost of 35% to £171 million.

Jeremy Hoyland, managing partner, commented:

“Despite the unprecedented challenges and uncertainty of the last 12 months, we have seen some substantial growth. As a firm, we have proven our resilience — thanks in part to the versatility of our business and the products and services we have developed as well as the tremendous support we have received from our clients over the past year. I’m delighted that our performance, in the face of these difficulties, has exceeded our expectations. I am convinced that our sector strategy has been a major contributing factor to this strong performance.”

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Elsewhere, Dentons published comparatively muted numbers, with revenue in the UK, Ireland and Middle East (UKIME) arm rising by just 1% to £223.2 million. The firm did not disclose its PEP or overall net profit figures.

The firm’s UKIME CEO, Paul Jarvis, said: “Last year was a challenging year for so many reasons. We are very proud of the way our people across the entire business responded to the challenge. Looking forward, we will continue to invest in quality lateral hires so that we can continue to grow in our strategic growth areas whilst keeping the interests of the client front and centre of everything we do.”

Two listed law firms have also published their latest results. DWF confirmed net revenue growth is up 14% to £338 million as gross profit hit £172 million — an increase of 21%.

Sir Nigel Knowles, chief executive officer, commented:

“FY2020/21 was a transformational year for DWF and I am delighted that the tremendous resilience, dedication and excellence of our colleagues has been rewarded with these strong results. The results reflect a return to pre-Covid-19 activity levels, but they also evidence the importance of the decisive actions we took throughout the year as we focused on driving greater operational efficiency, profitability and strategic alignment.”

Meanwhile, Gateley enjoyed a 10.5% uplift in revenue from £109.8 million to £121.4 million, while profit before tax hit £16.3 million — again a rise of 10.5%.

Rod Waldie, CEO of Gateley, said, “I am delighted with the excellent FY21 outcome, a year in which we exceeded our own pandemic-adjusted performance expectations set in the first month of the Year. We have, once again, delivered year-on-year revenue growth.”

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