Mid-size elite dominant as magic circle bounces back

The Lawyer 50: the first full rundown of the top fifty UK firms’ financial performance on PEP and revenue

This year’s provisional financial results for The Lawyer’s top 50 firms confirm the emergence of a mid-tier elite.

Addleshaw Goddard, Ber-win Leighton Paisner (BLP), Clyde & Co, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, Macfarlanes, SJ Berwin, led by David Harrel, and Travers Smith have all posted excellent results. The traditional transactional firms have had stellar years.

Travers Smith is due to report a 23 per cent rise in turnover and a 30 per cent hike in profit. Macfarlanes is the only one of the group to break the £800,000 barrier for average profit per equity partner (PEP). Partners at what may well be the best-run firm in the City picked up an average of £810,000 last year.

BLP, led by Neville Eisenberg, continued its winning streak, with a PEP of £575,000, while DLA Piper also broke through £500,000 with a PEP of £575,000.

Among the big four, Linklaters dominates. The firm confounded almost everyone in the market by not only coming out with PEP in ex-cess of £800,000, but bumping that up even further a few weeks later to £845,000.

Slaughter and May confirmed its position as the elite domestic UK practice by turning in its best set of results for years. The firm is the only one not to release financial information, but internal sources have indicated that average PEP has leapt by 28 per cent to more than £1m.

However, the top 50 also reveals a group of firms that are continuing to struggle. Hammonds has suffered one of the largest drops in PEP, with PEP plummeting by 20 per cent to £160,000. Denton Wilde Sapte has also had a dismal year, with PEP falling from £325,000 to £275,000.

Something of a surprise is the firm that has fallen most – Lovells. Average PEP has sunk well below £500,000, back to little more than where it was in 2000 at £440,000.

The Lawyer’s top 50

The Lawyer Top 50 is an exclusive preview of The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report, published in September. Slaughter and May is confirmed as the UK’s most profitable firm with average PEP up 28 per cent to more than £1m; Linklaters overtakes Freshfields in PEP and turnover; and Lovells’ profits sink 22 per cent

Top 50 firms 2005
Rank 2005 Rank 2004 Firm Turnover 2005 (£m) Turnover 2004 (£m) PEP 2005 (£K) PEP 2004 (£K)
1 1 Clifford Chance 915.0 936.0 644 562
2 3 Linklaters 805.0 720.0 845 674
3 2 Freshfields 780.0 785.0 700 675
4 4 Allen & Overy 672.0 652.0 670 609
5 5 Lovells 366.0 377.0 460 590
6 7 DLA Piper 324.0 275.4 535 475
7 6 Eversheds 302.8 296.2 350 330
8 8 Slaughter and May 290.0 248.0 1,050 819
9 9 Herbert Smith 265.0 243.0 800 700
10 10 Norton Rose 215.0 205.0 425 405
11 11 Ashurst 200.0 197.0 545 521
12 12 Simmons & Simmons 196.0 178.3 371 275
13 14 CMS Cameron McKenna 163.0 167.0 384 415
14 13 Denton Wilde Sapte 157.0 174.0 275 325
15 20 Pinsent Masons* 150.0 153.7 255 259
16 16 Addleshaw Goddard 139.7 125.2 404 321
17 15 Hammonds 136.0 136.0 160 200
18 18 SJ Berwin 122.0 110.0 575 510
19 17 Berwin Leighton Paisner 121.0 102.0 570 425
20 19 Clyde & Co 104.0 96.0 500 460
21 21 Irwin Mitchell 102.0 91.0 490 485
22 22 Nabarro Nathanson 98.0 87.3 410 345
23 23 Salans 92.5 87.2 349 339
24 24 Richards Butler 89.0 87.0 460 415
25 26 Wragge & Co 88.5 79.3 300 208
26 25 Beachcroft Wansbroughs 88.0 81.8 250 240
27 28 Bird & Bird 80.4 71.9 343 327
28 27 Barlow Lyde & Gilbert 80.0 78.2 380 380
29 29 Macfarlanes 74.0 67.0 810 720
30 31 Taylor Wessing 67.3 64.0 400 348
31 30 Osborne Clarke 67.0 64.6 360 303
32 33 Olswang 63.8 59.4 405 345
33 =34 Lawrence Graham 61.1 58.6 401 415
34 36 Shoosmiths 60.2 54.6 333 227
35 =34 Stephenson Harwood 56.0 58.6 280 234
36 =43 Travers Smith 54.5 44.2 575 440
37 37 Withers 52.4 52.4 280 280
38 =40 Field Fisher Waterhouse 52.1 47.0 390 325
39 39 Holman Fenwick & Willan 52.0 48.4 311 286
40 =40 Reynolds Porter Chamberlain 51.8 47.0 295 265
=41 45 Charles Russell 50.0 44.6 265 265
=41 47 Cobbetts 50.0 41.8 190 202
=41 50 Halliwell Landau 50.0 40.4 400 360
44 =43 Watson Farley & Williams 48.9 45.0 390 358
45 42 Ince & Co 47.0 46.5 335 319
46 =48 McGrigors 46.0 41.0 240 238
47 51 Hill Dickinson 45.1 40.1 260 221
48 46 Burges Salmon 45.0 42.2 352 335
49 52 Dundas & Wilson 44.5 40.0 256 236
50 =53 Dickinson Dees 43.8 39.5 326 280
 
* 2004 revenue/PEP have combined figures of Pinsents and Masons pre-merger

Source: The Lawyer


best for profit per equity partner (pep)
Rank Firm PEP 2005 (£K) PEP 2004 (£K) % change
1 Slaughter and May 1,050 819 28.21
2 Linklaters 845 674 25.37
3 Macfarlanes 810 720 12.50
4 Herbert Smith 800 700 14.29
5 Freshfields 700 675 3.70
6 Allen & Overy 670 609 10.02
7 Clifford Chance 644 562 14.59
8 Travers Smith 575 440 30.68
9 SJ Berwin 575 510 12.75
10 Berwin Leighton Paisner 570 425 34.12

worst for pep
Rank Firm PEP 2005 (£K) PEP 2004 (£K) % change
50 Hammonds 160 200 -20.00
49 Cobbetts 190 202 -5.94
48 McGrigors 240 238 0.84
47 Beachcroft Wansbroughs 250 240 4.17
46 Pinsent Masons* 255 259 -1.54
45 Dundas & Wilson 256 236 8.47
44 Hill Dickinson 260 221 17.65
43 Charles Russell 265 265 0.00
42 Denton Wilde Sapte 275 325 -15.38
41 Stephenson Harwood 280 234 19.66

biggest PEP increases
Rank Firm PEP 2005 (£K) PEP 2004 (£K) % change
1 Shoosmiths 333 227 46.70
2 Wragge & Co 300 208 44.23
3 Simmons & Simmons 371 275 34.91
4 Berwin Leighton Paisner 570 425 34.12
5 Travers Smith 575 440 30.68
6 Slaughter and May 1,050 819 28.21
7 Addleshaw Goddard 404 321 25.86
8 Linklaters 845 674 25.37
9 Field Fisher Waterhouse 390 325 20.00
10 Stephenson Harwood 280 234 19.66

biggest falls in PEP
Rank Firm PEP 2005 (£K) PEP 2004 (£K) % change
1 Lovells 460 590 -22.03
2 Hammonds 160 200 -20.00
3 Denton Wilde Sapte 275 325 -15.38
4 CMS Cameron McKenna 384 415 -7.47
5 Cobbetts 190 202 -5.94
6 Lawrence Graham 401 415 -3.37
7 Pinsent Masons* 255 259 -1.54
8 Charles Russell 265 265 0.00
9 Withers 280 280 0.00
10 Barlow Lyde & Gilbert 380 380 0.00

biggest turnover increases
Rank Firm Turnover 2005 (£m) Turnover 2004 (£m) % change
1 Halliwell Landau 50.0 40.4 23.76
2 Travers Smith 54.5 44.2 23.3
3 Cobbetts 50.0 41.8 19.62
4 Berwin Leighton Paisner 121.0 102.0 18.63
5 DLA Piper 324.0 275.4 17.65
6 Slaughter and May 290.0 248.0 16.94
7 Hill Dickinson 45.1 40.1 12.47
8 Nabarro Nathanson 98.0 87.3 12.26
9 McGrigors 46.0 41.0 12.2
10 Charles Russell 50.0 44.6 12.11

worst turnover performance
Rank Firm Turnover 2005 (£m) Turnover 2004 (£m) % change
1 DWS 157.0 174 -9.77
2 Stephenson Harwood 56.0 58.6 -4.44
3 Lovells 366.0 377.0 -2.92
4 Pinsent Masons* 150.0 153.7 -2.41
5 CMS Cameron McKenna 163.0 167.0 -2.40
6 Clifford Chance 915.0 936.0 -2.24
7 Freshfields 780.0 785.0 -0.64
8 Hammonds 136.0 136.0 0.00
9 Withers 52.4 52.4 0.00
10 Ince & Co 47.0 46.5 1.08
 
* 2004 revenue/PEP have combined figures of Pinsents and Masons pre-merger

Source: The Lawyer