Although Clifford Chance remains the UK's largest litigation practice, bringing in £183m in the last financial year, contentious turnover was significantly down from 2004's £225m.
Meanwhile, Freshfields saw an upturn in litigation on the back of such cases as the landmark privilege hearing Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England. The firm's dispute resolution team recorded a turnover of £130m, up by £12m on 2004's figure.
Herbert Smith and Lovells remain the only other firms to make more than £100m annually from litigation. Both have larger litigation practices as a percentage of total turnover than Clifford Chance or Freshfields, with Lovells' litigators contributing 30 per cent of the firm's total income and Herbert Smith's dispute resolution team 40 per cent.
Clifford Chance is the only one of the four litigation outfits where partners post revenue per litigation partner in excess of £2m, a rise of 11 per cent on the previous year - although the other firms also improved on 2004's figures.
Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have seen no change in the contribution litigation makes to total turnover. The latter's litigation group brought in £65m last year, equating to a revenue per partner figure of £2.1m, as opposed to A&O's £641,000 for each of its 103 dispute resolution partners.