Linklaters expected to close gap on Clifford Chance by the year-end

By using the information gathered for the half-year roundup, The Lawyer has estimated full-year figures. The numbers in the table have, in most cases, been provided by the firm’s themselves, so give a precise marker as to their performance in the 2005-06 financial year so far.

Clearly an extrapolation of full-year figures is less precise. It is impossible to predict exactly how each of these firms will perform over the next six months: no one can foresee, for example, what trading climate they will be operating in, or account for the variety of billing mechanisms (from the increasingly popular monthly billing to the more traditional pre-end-of-year bulge) now used by firms. However, reasonable estimates based on the results so far make interesting reading.

Clifford Chance heads the list, breaking through the billion-pound barrier, but it is Linklaters’ closing of the gap between itself and the global giant that catches the eye. The firm’s 16 per cent revenue increase would take it to within touching distance of the billion-pound mark – and Clifford Chance.

However, managing partner Tony Angel admitted that, because of the hugely successful second half Linklaters enjoyed in 2004-2005, maintaining the 16 per cent growth in the same period of this year would be “difficult”. Angel added that the firm’s strategy of focusing on a “platinum” core group of banking and corporate clients had paid off, with billings up 25 per cent for that group.

Elsewhere, Hammonds drops another three places down the table, Norton Rose, Simmons & Simmons and Ashurst form a trio of City firms separated by £7m, and Pinsent Masons leapfrogs Addleshaw Goddard.

The upturn in the fortunes of many of the largest firms in the legal market is confirmed by figures in The Lawyer’s comprehensive roundup of half-year results.

The top 50 firms are averaging 12 per cent growth on last year. Many have exceeded this by some way.

Halliwells, Clyde & Co, Charles Russell, Trowers & Hamlins, Bird & Bird, Taylor Wessing and Holman Fenwick & Willan have all posted a revenue growth of more than 20 per cent on this time last year. Charles Russell, Clydes and Halliwells are the pick of the bunch, each with increases of 25 per cent.

Charles Russell managing partner Grant Howell claimed the increase left the firm on target to improve turnover for 2005-2006 by its budgeted 20 per cent. He did, however, admit that there were no expectations of replicating the same level of growth in the firm’s profitability, because of the costs incurred during its launches in Switzerland and Oxford earlier this year.

SJ Berwin also did well, posting a 19 per cent growth. Senior partner David Harrell said this left the firm on track to meet its budget of a 15 per cent increase in turnover to £140m for the 2005-06 financial year.

At the other end of the scale, Denton Wilde Sapte continues to struggle. The firm was the only top-50 outfit to post zero growth in its first six months, with a half-year total of £77m.

Estimated full-year revenues
Estimated rank 2006 Rank 2005 Firm Estimated full-year total (£m) 2004-2005 revs (£m) Half-year total (£m) Half-year % increase
1 1 Clifford Chance 1,010.0 914.0 500.0 10.0
2 2 Linklaters 934.0 805.0 438.0 16.0
3 3 Freshfields 842.0 780.0 380.0 8.0
4 4 Allen & Overy 749.0 666.0 375.0 12.5
5 5 Lovells 403.0 366.0 176.0 10.0
6 6 DLA Piper 365.0 322.0 160.0 10.0
7 7 Eversheds 318.0 302.8 159.0 5.0
8 8 Slaughter and May 305.0 290.0 152.0 5.0
9 9 Herbert Smith 294.0 265.0 147.0 11.0
10 10 Norton Rose 218.0 195.0 109.0 12.0
11 12 Simmons & Simmons 216.0 196.0 108.0 10.0
12 11 Ashurst 211.0 201.0 84.0 5.0
13 13 CMS Cameron McKenna 171.0 163.1 85.6 5.0
14 15 Pinsent Masons 169.0 150.6 80.0 12.0
15 16 Addleshaw Goddard 156.0 139.0 75.1 12.5
=16 14 Denton Wilde Sapte 154.0 154.0 77.0 0.0
=16 18 Taylor Wessing 154.0 127.2 77.0 21.0
18 19 SJ Berwin 145.0 122.0 58.0 19.0
19 20 Berwin Leighton Paisner 142.0 121.0 70.8 17.0
20 17 Hammonds 138.0 127.6 65.0 8.0
21 21 Clyde & Co 130.0 104.0 65.0 25.0
22 22 Irwin Mitchell 113.0 102.0 51.0 11.0
23 23 Nabarrro Nathanson 110.0 100.0 50.0 10.0
24 25 Beachcroft Wansbroughs 100.0 89.7 45.0 12.0
25 28 Bird & Bird 98.1 80.4 40.2 22.0
26 27 Wragge & Co 97.4 88.5 46.8 10.0
27 26 Richards Butler 92.1 89.0 44.5 3.5.0
28 29 Barlow Lyde & Gilbert 81.6 80.0 40.0 2.0
29 30 Macfarlanes 80.7 74.0 37.0 9.0
30 31 Osborne Clarke 76.0 66.7 36.5 14.0
31 32 Olswang 75.5 64.0 32.0 18.0
32 33 Lawrence Graham 72.1 61.1 30.5 18.0
33 34 Shoosmiths 69.9 60.8 34.0 15.0
34 35 Withers 66.3 60.3 30.0 10.0
=35 =41 Charles Russell 62.5 50.0 25.0 25.0
=35 =41 Halliwells 62.5 50.0 29.0 25.0
37 39 Holman Fenwick & Willan 62.4 52.0 31.0 20.0
38 36 Stephenson Harwood 61.6 56.0 26.7 10.0
39 38 Field Fisher Waterhouse 59.9 52.1 26.0 15.0
40 =41 Cobbetts 59.0 50.0 24.2 18.0
41 37 Travers Smith 58.9 54.5 29.4 8.0
42 44 Watson Farley 54.9 49.0 24.5 12.0
43 50 Trowers & Hamlins 54.4 44.2 25.0 23.0
44 40 Reynolds Porter Chamberlain 52.8 51.8 25.5 2.0
45 48 Hill Dickinson 51.6 45.3 22.6 14.0
46 45 Ince & Co 50.3 47.0 23.5 7.0
47 49 Dundas & Wilson 50.0 44.5 22.2 18.0
48 =46 Burges Salmon 48.0 45.4 22.7 5.0
49 54 Kennedys 47.0 42.9 21.2 8.7
50 51 Dickinson Dees 46.0 43.8 21.9 5.0
   
Salans and McGrigors are not included due to altertnative financal years Source: The Lawyer