Half-year results bring happiness

Perhaps it’s just that firms which have had good news are happier to talk about it, but the financial health of the UK legal market in 2013/14 looks pretty good at the six-month mark.

So far, not a single firm has reported a drop in revenue. Allen & Overy is the only magic circle firm to have disclosed its sixth-month turnover to date – a 7.5 per cent increase, to £608m.

Slightly lower down the UK200, Simmons & Simmons has bounced back from a decrease this time last year to post an 8 per cent rise in revenue for the half year. Managing partner Jeremy Hoyland is particularly chuffed with the corporate team’s performance.

Osborne Clarke is one of the best performers so far, announcing a rise of 12 per cent this morning after six months of heavy investment. The increase is largely due to a stellar performance in Spain, but the larger UK operations were up 8 per cent.

Meanwhile Field Fisher Waterhouse, Hill Dickinson, JMW Solicitors and Weightmans are all also up at the six-month mark. So is DWF, although after the firm’s year of investment this is only to be expected.

Over at DAC Beachcroft, half-year turnover has also increased, but the firm has issued a £10m cash call and is overhauling its funding arrangements as it aims for £200m of turnover by the year end.

The latest figures follow the early reporters, including Clyde & Co, Gateley and Macfarlanes. But with many of the top 20, including the rest of the magic circle, still to announce half-year results, the picture could yet change. And with many firms still facing management issues, legal market spectators would be wise not to don their rose-tinted spectacles just yet.

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