Ashurst, CMS and Norton Rose cheered by half-year results

Ashurst and CMS Cameron McKenna are the latest firms to reveal their financial performance at the half-year stage, with both firms posting impressive increases.

Camerons is reporting an impressive 21 per cent leap in turnover at the half-year stage, posting £103m.

Breaking the £100m barrier in six months will be a boon to the top 15 firm. Last year, Camerons only managed a 6 per cent increase at the half-year stage, at £84m, consistent with its final turnover of £197.4m at the end of 2006-07.

Managing partner Dick Tyler, who steps down at the end of 2007-08, has set the firm a target turnover of £250m by 2009.

Tyler told The Lawyer: “The figures are encouraging. All practice areas had at least 10 per cent growth. So we are definitely heading in the right direction. I’m not beguiled but certainly more optimistic than a month ago.”

So far, the three firms that have announced half-year figures – Ashurst, Camerons and A&O – have all trounced expectations that the credit crunch would impede law firm turnover.

Ashurst continued last year’s trajectory of enviable growth, boasting a 25 per cent increase on fee income compared to this time last year.

The firm, which does not include work in progress (WIP) in its figures, is reporting a fee income of £147m in six months. This compares to £117m last year.

This is the second year in a row that Ashurst has posted such strong results. Last November, it reported an astounding 28 per cent leap at the half-year stage, consolidating that with a 28.5 per cent rise in annual turnover to £275m at the end of 2006-07.

Managing partner Simon Bromwich told The Lawyer: “Activity levels are good and we have plenty of WIP. September was slightly lower but our finance team was largely unaffected. We’re excited about Tokyo, Singapore and the Middle East.”

The firm is launching in Abu Dhabi in early 2008, as first reported by The Lawyer (1 October).

Norton Rose has posted half year figures 23 per cent up on this time last year.

Peter Martyr, Norton Rose’s chief executive, said that there was no magical reason for the growth but that it was driven by the corporate team and is slightly higher than the firm’s projected target.

“Our books till the other side of Christmas are healthy but more subprime related setbacks could make a difference. At the moment though I’m reasonably optimistic,” said Martyr.