What happened in UK financial results season

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By William Holmes on


Biggest winners and losers 📈

Taylor Wessing and Mishcon de Reya have topped this year’s charts for the largest growth in profit per equity partner (PEP) and revenue by a UK law firm respectively.

Taylor Wessing’s PEP grew 27% to around £870,000, whilst UK revenues also rocketed 25%. The firm’s global revenue meanwhile grew 13% to just above £420 million. Taylor Wessing’s managing partner Shane Gleghorn said: “I’d attribute some of the growth to strong financial disciplines in the firm. The advisory, contentious and transactional work has also been noticeably bigger in the last two years. We have found ourselves in more complex transactions such as the Netflix and Roald Dahl deal, and the Abrdn deal.”

Biggest winners

Ranking (by ⬆️% growth) Revenue Profit per equity partner (PEP)
1 Mishcon de Reya (⬆️22%, £230.7 million) Taylor Wessing (⬆️27%, £870,000)
2 Osborne Clarke (⬆️20%, €407 million (£349 million)) Eversheds Sutherland (⬆️26%, £1.24 million )
3 Addleshaw Goddard (⬆️18%, £377 million)) Fieldfisher (⬆️22%, £1.05 million)

Mishcon de Reya came out on top for biggest revenue growth, chalking up a 22% rise. Mishcon’s managing partner James Lisbon commented: “I am proud of what we have achieved amidst challenging market conditions and want to thank all of our people for their dynamism and agility in navigating the changing nature of our business and responding to our clients’ needs.”

Osborne Clarke takes silver medal position recording a 20% rise that even “surprised” its international chief executive Omar Al-Nuaimi, whilst Addleshaw Goddard comes in third with an 18% revenue leap to £377 million.

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Eversheds Sutherland closely followed Taylor Wessing in PEP growth, jumping 26% to £1.24 million. Fieldfisher trailed not far behind chalking up a 22% rise that took its PEP to an all-time high of just over £1 million. Other notable results were Macfarlanes (revenue up 16% and PEP up 19%) and Trowers & Hamlins (revenue up 12.6% and PEP up 19.5%).

Partners felt the pinch at RPC and Kingsley Napley who saw their respective PEPs dip 11% and 14%. RPC, which saw revenues rise 10% to £149 million, put this down to “a drive towards investment in people, IT and infrastructure” with the firm launching a new office in Bristol. Kingsley Napley explained its drop in PEP on the back of 17% growth in revenue was due to a combination of new investment in fee-earners and support services as well as its move to a new London office last July.

Largest UK firms by revenue

Ranking Revenue
1 Clifford Chance (£1.97 billion)
2 Allen & Overy (£1.94 billion)
3 Linklaters (£1.78 billion)
4 Freshfields (£1.7 billion)
5 CMS (£1.48 billion)

Much of the Magic Circle’s growth this year has been generated from outside of the UK. Allen & Overy generated over half its global revenue growth in the US, where it has offices in in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boston and Los Angeles. Around 32% of Clifford Chance’s global income came from Continental Europe with 35% coming from the UK which remains its largest source of income.

The Magic Circle firms (excluding Slaughter and May which does not publicly disclose its PEP) are all huddled around £2 million PEP. Linklaters trails the pack, with its PEP being just shy of £1.9 million, whilst Macfarlanes remains the most profitable for partners of the firms to publish in this round of results.

UK firms with largest PEP

Ranking Profit per equity partner (PEP)
1 Macfarlanes (£2.48 million)
2 Freshfields (£2.07 million)
3 Clifford Chance (£2.04 million)
4 Allen & Overy (£1.95 million)
5 Linklaters (£1.87 million)

The US market appears to be a priority for these firms. Clifford Chance’s senior managing partner Charles Adams specifically referred to the Americas as one of the firm’s “priority geographies”, whilst Freshfields revealed that their Silicon Valley office’s headcount had doubled. Rick van Aerssen, Freshfields managing partner noted: “We look forward to pushing on further this year to meet the strategic goals we’ve set across our core markets, and our ongoing expansion in growth markets such as the U.S.”.

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