Revealed: UK firms are world’s best exporters of legal services

Fourteen UK firms contribute 18 per cent of the £29.5bn total revenue of the Global 100; US leaders untouchable on profit


The UK’s largest international firms are the most successful exporters of legal services in the world, is the key finding of the first The Lawyer Global 100 2004. Fourteen UK firms made it onto this year’s chart of the largest firms by revenue in the world. Together they represent 18 per cent (£5.467bn) of the £29.489bn total turnover.

In addition, when Dechert, Jones Day and Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw – all of which have pulled off substantial transatlantic mergers – are factored in, the UK presence within the Global 100 is even more significant.

For the first time, The Lawyer and The American Lawyer have collaborated to produce the most definitive analysis ever of the largest firms by turnover in the world. The US dominates the list, with 80 firms represented. Australia, Canada and Continental Europe chipped in with six between them, although all six are in the bottom fifth of the table. In contrast, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters all feature in the top six, with a combined turnover of £3.1bn.

The success of the UK global model is evident in statistics that chart how far UK lawyers have travelled from their home jurisdiction. Seven of the top 10 firms in the overseas lawyer table (see left) are UK-based. Baker & McKenzie has the largest proportion of lawyers outside its home jurisdiction at 83 per cent, while the only other firms to feature are Coudert Brothers (64 per cent) and White & Case (59 per cent).

UK firms also score comparatively well when it comes to profit. Although none can touch the elite US leaders Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Cravath Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where average profits are £1.5m, £1.2m and £1.1m respectively, UK firms are nevertheless world-beaters at squeezing profit out of lower revenues. Only one firm, Slaughter and May, makes the top 50 by revenue per lawyer (RPL), but eight UK firms make the top 50 by profit per equity partner (PEP).

The Global 100 2004 will be published on 15 November.

Global top ten firms
Rank Firm Gross revenue (£m) Total lawyers Equity partners PEP (£K) Location
1 Clifford Chance 950.0 2,684 406 579 UK
2 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 813.9 1,650 350 979 US
3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 785.0 2,225 516 678 UK
4 Linklaters 720.0 2,000 390 646 UK
5 Baker & McKenzie 694.0 3,053 611 364 US
6 Allen & Overy 652.0 1,879 312 628 UK
7 Jones Day 633.4 1,970 427 389 US
8 Latham & Watkins 632.2 1,513 367 780 US
9 Sidley Austin Brown & Wood 566.7 1,421 288 548 US
10 Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw 497.5 1,249 426 502 US
 
Source: The Lawyer/The American Lawyer

Lawyers outside home jurisdiction against PEP
Global rank Firm Lawyers outside home (%) PEP (£k)
5 Baker & McKenzie 83 364
3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 66 678
94 Coudert Brothers 64 257
1 Clifford Chance 62 579
11 White & Case 59 618
20 Lovells 57 590
66 Norton Rose 57 405
4 Linklaters 55 646
6 Allen & Overy 53 628
79 Simmons & Simmons 52 275
 
Source: The Lawyer/The American Lawyer