Financials 2013/14: partner revenues reach new heights as market swings back into action

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners generated the highest revenue on an individual basis than any firm in the UK200 Top 10 in 2013/14, posting a revenue per partner (RPP) figure of £2.88m.

The firm’s partnership numbers stayed steady over the last 12 months, increasing by one to 428 despite five lateral hires during the financial year. At £2.88m, Freshfields dominates the RPP rankings for the sixth consecutive year.

The firm’s RPP is slightly ahead of that at rival Linklaters, which posted £2.86m. The last time Freshfields was eclipsed by Linklaters was in 2005/06 when the Fleet Street firm had an RPP of £1.69m compared with Linklaters’ £1.88m.

Linklaters’ RPP stood at £2.86m last year and at 13, had the largest lateral hire intake of all the magic circle in 2013/14. That said, overall partner headcount increased by just six to 445.

Clifford Chance was behind Allen & Overy (A&O) in terms of RPP – £2.32m compared with £2.34m – but the firm produced the largest RPP jump over the last financial year, increasing by 7.4 per cent from £2.16m a year earlier.

Clifford Chance has been the target of partner raids by US rivals in London and has seen three private equity partners leave in the last financial year. But overall headcount as of 1 May 2014 showed a decrease, by just two to 587 with the firm making five lateral partner hires in 2013/15. Of those 587, 401 are equity partners.

The RPP jump is a theme reflected more broadly by Clifford Chance, where average profit per equity partner was up by 16 per cent to £1.14m (1 July 2014).

A&O is behind its magic circle rivals in terms of RPP growth, increasing by 1.74 per cent since 2011/12 from £2.3m to £2.34m. Like Linklaters the firm has been on a hiring spree over the financial year, bringing in 12 laterals with much of the focus being on London and Germany. Overall partnership headcount increased by just one to 526.

The Top 10 figures, excluding Slaughter and May (which does not report financial data) and Norton Rose Fulbright (which has not yet confirmed headcount numbers for the year), show a return to growth across the board.

Outside the magic circle both Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Ashurst have generated significant RPP growth.

HSF, which posted a turnover of £800m in its first full year as a merged firm (2 July 2014), pushed up RPP by 5.9 per cent from £1.69m to £1.79m. The firm made 12 lateral hires in 2013/14, with the largest intake in Frankfurt.

Eversheds, which has grown organically rather than looking for a merger partner, also pushed up RPP, growing by 7.34 per cent from £1.09m to £1.17m.

Revenue per partner 2013/14
Firm 2013/14 turnover (£m) Partnership total 2013/14 Revenue per partner (£m) 2012/13  turnover (£m) Partnership total 2013/14 Revenue per partner (£m)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 1,232 428 2.88 1,221 429 2.85
Linklaters 1,255 445 2.82 1195 439 2.72
Allen & Overy 1,230 526 2.34 1210 525 2.30
Clifford Chance 1,359 587 2.32 1271 589 2.16
Herbert Smith Freehills 800 446 1.79 764 452 1.69
Ashurst 586 420 1.40 323 242 1.33
Hogan Lovells 1070 831 1.29 1030 809 1.27
DLA Piper 1566 1296 1.21 1539 1329 1.16
Clyde & Co 365.1 307 1.19 336.6 296 1.14
Eversheds 384 328 1.17 376 345 1.09