Revealed: The Lawyer’s first-ever net debt rankings of the top UK firms

How much debt is too much debt? For many lawyers the answer to this question is still “any”.

But is that really the right response? Today The Lawyer unveils its first-ever extensive research into debt levels across the vast majority of the UK’s largest law firms.

In a dense report packed with startling statistics, such as the 10,493 per cent increase in net debt at Lewis Silkin, or the £820m total borrowings across 153 firms, 15 per cent of it made up by the £124.9m at Herbert Smith Freehills, we provide a snapshot of a market where sentiment towards borrowing is doing a U-turn and debt is increasingly a commercial necessity.

Don’t believe us? Then try these stats on for size: of the sample 153 firms, 64 saw their debt level increase between 2012/13, 49 saw it decrease and across 40 firms it stayed the same. The total net debt of these 153 firms in 2013 was £820m, a 2 per cent increase on the 2012 total of £805m.

The statistical data confirms it; in the UK legal market, the debt trend is upwards.

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