City firms publish strong financial results despite Covid disruption

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By Aishah Hussain on

Revenue rises at HSF, Eversheds, Fieldfisher and Kennedys

The vast majority of City law firms appear to have shrugged off the initial uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic to publish what are, on the whole, fairly bullish 2020-2021 financial results.

Although revenue dipped at Stephenson Harwood, it has risen at Herbert Smith Freehills, Eversheds Sutherland, Fieldfisher and Kennedys.

HSF posted record annual revenue in the face of the pandemic, smashing through the £1 billion barrier for the first time. Its revenue jumped by 5% to hit £1.038 billion, while its profit per equity partner (PEP) has risen by 28% to break through the £1 million mark for the first time, reaching £1.1 million in its latest financial year.

The firm attributed 60% of the profit increase down to strong revenue growth and the remaining 40% to “around £30 million” in savings brought about by the coronavirus and lockdowns which followed.

Eversheds announced global and non-US business turnover increased marginally to $1.27 billion (£918 million) and £629.1 million, respectively. Its PEP figure rose 9% to £984,000.

Eversheds Sutherland CEO (International) Lee Ranson said: “As we look to the future, we are committed to continuing our programme of significant strategic investment such as the roll-out of our new document and practice management systems, to building true global alignment and to continued recruitment in key practice areas and geographies.”

Stephenson Harwood, meanwhile, reported a 2% dip in revenue over the last financial year. The firm’s turnover now stands at £209 million, down from £213 million last year, according to a firm statement.

In 2019-20, the firm’s revenue remained stagnant at £213 million, after a pacey 12% growth the previous year.

PEP at Stephenson Harwood stands at £685,000, with the firm stating the figure had “bounced back”. Stephenson Harwood did not disclose PEP figures last year, however the current figure is lower than the £727,000 disclosed in 2019.

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Fieldfisher and Kennedys both posted robust 2020-21 financial results.

Fieldfisher appears to have reaped lockdown-generated efficiency dividends with PEP soaring 22% to £860,000, after falling to £705,000 in 2020. Meanwhile, revenue rose by 6% to £290 million in the firm’s eighth consecutive year of growth.

Fieldfisher said it had achieved double-digit revenue growth in its Brussels, German and Paris offices over its last financial year. The firm’s UK offices collectively grew turnover by 5%.

Fieldfisher’s managing partner Michael Chissick said:

“In a challenging year when Brexit and Covid-19 were front and centre of everybody’s agenda, I am pleased to be announcing our positive results. Activity levels over the last year reached record highs in some months and remain strong. We are back to focusing on growth. We will continue to add and promote talent to our ranks to support our growth strategy and we have started the new financial year with confidence and optimism.”

Kennedys reported global turnover of £264 million, up 11% year-on-year. In the UK, turnover was up 8.5% on the previous year at £151 million.

Kennedys global senior partner Nick Thomas said: “When we released strong financial results last year, we were only a couple of months into the pandemic. We did not know what the year ahead would hold. So, these results serve as a testament to the incredible professionalism and hard work of our teams across the world.”

Kennedys does not disclose its profit figures prior to audit but these will have risen “proportionately” to the revenues, according to Thomas.

Earlier this month, Pinsent Masons posted record turnover, surpassing the half a billion barrier for the first time to reach £503.3 million. Its PEP rose by 16% to £636,000. Elsewhere, CMS saw global revenue increase by 3% to €1.475 billion (£1.3 billion), with slightly more than a third of that coming from its UK business. Charles Russell Speechlys grew revenues by 8.6% to hit £173 million and its PEP soared by 40% to reach £533,000. Expect more City law firm financials in the coming weeks.

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