Half-year results point to record year for UK firms

UK firms are reporting record figures at the half-year point, with double-digit rises in revenue predicted for the end of the financial year.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Ashurst lead the way, with revenue rising by nearly 25 per cent at Freshfields, from £380m during the same period last year to around £470m during the first six months of the 2006-07 financial year.

Ashurst celebrated a record first six months after preliminary figures showed the firm was up by 28 per cent, from £91m to £117m at the half-year stage.

Both compared well against Allen & Overy, which posted an 18 per cent jump in its half-year revenue, from £358m to £422m, and Clifford Chance, which was cautiously pleased with a projected 16 per cent rise in revenue from £500m to £580m. Official figures, however, are yet to be circulated internally.

Hammonds’ revival has stalled, with revenue at the half-year point flatlining despite a buoyant six months for the rest of the market.

Hammonds’ revenue was stuck at around £65m, with management attributing disappointing revenue generation to the fact that a number of senior individuals had resigned. Since the end of the partners’ lock-in at the end of June 2006, 11 partners have quit.

Hammonds managing partner Peter Crossley told The Lawyer: “In terms of underlying activity and utilisation, we think things are looking pretty good for the second half of the year. It’s broadly where we expected to be.”

Hammonds’ fortunes contrast with the rest of the market, with no other top 20 firm reporting anything less than the 12 per cent rises recorded at Addleshaw Goddard and Nabarro Nathanson.

Addleshaws managing partner Mark Jones said: “It’s a solid rather than spectacular result.”

Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s progress continued strongly, but without quite the fireworks of recent years, with revenue rising by 17 per cent, from £70.8m in the first six months to £82.8m.

National rivals Eversheds and Pinsent Masons both recorded revenue rises of 13 per cent, with Eversheds hitting £179m at six months and Pinsents £90.4m.

Beachcroft partners welcomed an 18 per cent rise in revenue, from £45m to £53.1m after the first half-year.