Herbert Smith: power shifts to M&A partners

Litigation department holds its own but corporate group romps away on revenues

Research for 2003’s The Lawyer 100 has confirmed what the City has long suspected about Herbert Smith: that corporate really is king.
Crucially, the firm posted identical revenue per partner figures in its corporate and litigation departments, and despite the downturn corporate turned over significantly more.
Both departments had a revenue per partner of £1.24m, but corporate brought in £103m, which was 43 per cent of the firm’s total turnover. Litigation generated £91.76m, which was 38 per cent of turnover.
This is not to say that Herbert Smith’s litigators did
not have a good year, but despite a mini-litigation boom and a serious tail-off in corporate work, the balance of power stayed with the corporate practice.
In 2002 the firm posted a corporate turnover of £101m, 45 per cent of the firm’s total.
In real terms, corporate turnover of £103m for 2003 is down because, unlike in 2002, the 2003 corporate figure includes antitrust work.
Litigation, which brought in £81m last year (including merger support and contentious antitrust) is significantly up this year at £91.76m without antitrust. But, as a proportion of turnover (38 per cent 2002-03 compared with 36 per cent in 2001-02) the change was negligible.
The figures confirm the meteoric rise of corporate at Herbert Smith over the last five years.
However, on the downside, client conflicts will inevitably increase. As is already happening at Lovells, the interests of the litigators will have to be subjugated to the needs of the corporate client base.