UK law firms continue to post 2021 financials

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Results in for Macfarlanes, Ince & Co, WFW and TLT

Another batch of UK law firms have released their 2021 financial figures.

Silver circle player Macfarlanes reported a turnover of £260.9 million, an increase of 9.8% on the previous year, while operating profit reached £141.5 million, a jump of 12.3%. Profit per equity partner (PEP) surpassed £2 million for the first time, reaching £2.085 million

Sebastian Prichard Jones, Macfarlanes senior partner, commented:

“In a difficult year for many, these results are testament to the hard work of everyone at the firm. Thank you to our clients for continuing to entrust us with their work and to our teams who have performed remarkably in far from ideal circumstances.”

By contrast, listed law firm Ince reported a whopping 60% downturn in operating profit to £3.1 million. Global revenue grew by 4% to £100.2 million, but UK revenues fell 5% to £58.7 million. Operating profit before non-underling items remained flat at £9.2 million.

Ince cited a number of reasons for this year’s disappointing results, including UK lockdown measures on office openings and travel, as well as restrictions on court activity, paricualry insolvencies.

Meanwhile, Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) recorded 1.2% dip in revenues to to just over £180million, while PEP is also down — 4% to £553,000. Profits rose 4% to hit £54.8 million.

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Managing partners Chris Lowe and Lothar Wegener commented:

“We are satisfied with the result as we entered the last financial year during a strategic review of our core business aimed at consolidating and investing in our strategy of sector focus. As part of that, we have opened two new offices in Dusseldorf and Sydney, welcomed ten lateral partners and made significant investments in our workplaces and business functions across the firm.”

Elsewhere, UK law firm TLT posted revenues of £110 million — 11% up on the previous year. “We ended the last financial year in a very strong position, having adapted quickly to the challenges of the pandemic — particularly in the first quarter,” John Wood, TLT managing partner commented. “This has been my first year as managing partner, and I am proud of everyone at the firm’s efforts to make this result possible by supporting and delivering for our clients time and time again throughout the year.”

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PEP up, Associate salaries less so

I like Macfarlanes as a Firm but with the PEP they have they really should be paying more competitively than they are (I don’t know the levels post NQ) but certainly on qualification they should, imo, be paying MC rates



With 100k guaranteed after bonus aren’t they on par with MC? But I agree, they should be brave like HL and pay more. Back in 2017 they were at £82k, 4 years later at 90. Seems like they’re reluctant because of MC.


PEP up, Associate salaries less so

I guess the MC are 100 base (apart from technically A&O) – then some offer a bonus above that

HL is a good case study – with less PEP they still feel able to pay the same rates



Agreed but most of the blame lies with the MC – they’re seen as market leaders in the U.K. so there’s essentially no pressure on firms like Macs but they should take the initiative like HL have and perhaps MC will follow.



Macs are aware they could definitely pay associates more but they will always stay behind the MC in terms of pay


City Realist

It’s disappointing. They would find recruitment much easier. Currently, what’s the incentive to go to Macs from MC or other top City firms – you’ll work like you’re in the MC and get paid less.



I don’t think they struggle for recruitment lol those who go there tend to stay long term



As a long term associate at Macs, this is not true. Teams across the firm are bleeding associates to US firms and in-house gigs. Covid has seen the transactional lawyers pull in way north of 2000 billables, resulting in the attached reported PEP of >2m, whilst the junior and senior associates are shafted with below market pay under the guise of ‘prestige’, ‘firm success’, and being the ‘go to firm for the ‘complex’ work’. Sadly some of our best are now following the money and escaping the cult…


The Truth

Long-term associate at Macs on the Legalcheek comments section? Nah sorry mate don’t buy it. Go join all the JDW partners and Kirkland Dollah Partners back in the BPP library.


Surely partnership? Not a bit factor for NQ-4PQE, but senior associates will be have an eye on partnership prospects and what that looks like.



On a side note Goodwin upped to £145,750 NQ yesterday






Can see they are really trying to make a name for themselves in the UK – up till the last year or so I don’t think it would be unfair to say it was still a ‘rogue’ firm in the UK and wasn’t mentioned really alongside the smaller American firms with a UK presence (Akin Gump, V&E)



£147,000 actually





Macs fan club

Macs rose to £2m despite them actively increasing costs, that’s pretty impressive.

Considering most firms rise in PEP this year has been down to the fact their costs decreased because of lockdown.



They just have very tight control over who they let in and keep in the partnership. Smaller pie divided by even smaller partnership means high PEP.



Lots of non-equity partners at Macs as well.


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