A&O and CC: fee-off time

The Lawyer was braced for largely dire – or at least dull – financial results from law firms for the 2011-12 financial year, but those that have released their numbers so far have averaged increases of around 7 per cent (see story). What recession, eh?

And now Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance have become the first of the magic circle firms to announce their figures. Both have performed, on the face of things, pretty well.

A&O announced a near 6 per cent rise in turnover to £1.182bn and 7 per cent rise in profit before tax to £486m. Similarly, Clifford Chance, which looks set to retain its crown as the UK’s largest law firm, posted a 7 per cent rise in turnover to £1.303bn and a 13 per cent rise in profit to £431m.

The magic circle firms, of course, have the advantage of a plethora of international offices to offset the effects of the sluggish UK market. Clifford Chance said that London was one of its weakest performers while Asia was one of the strongest, with City revenues growing by just 3 per cent. A&O said that London grew, but at a slower rate than the firm’s 6 per cent total. Add inflation into the mix and you’ve got a pretty flat market.

What that means for firms without the buffer of far-flung footholds is as yet unclear because, in general, firms appear to be a little slow off the mark with their figures this year. Then again, the low numbers always seem to take longest to add up.