UK 200 2013
Litigation-heavy firms continue to be the high rollers in the ever-popular profit per equity partner stakes
Our revenue per lawyer figures show that there’s high-value work in niche firms, but are this metric’s days numbered?
This year’s UK 200 shows how firms are battling a feeble economy with ruthless efficiency. A decade ago those words would most likely be employed to describe a 12-month period of booming revenues and profits across the UK’s largest firms, driven by debt-fuelled M&A and a buoyant legal market. That was certainly not the case in 2012/13
A minority of international firms saw UK revenue fall as global platforms kicked in. The majority of this year’s top 30 international firms in the UK table saw a return on the investments they made in the past three to five years. Only seven firms on the list saw their UK revenue drop last year, a long way from the figures published by The Lawyer in 2009, when 21 firms reported year-on-year falls in UK fee income.
It’s not only law firms being organised on more businesslike lines. Leading sets are seeing the rise of ‘superclerk’ top executives. The impact of the seismic changes shaking up the legal market across the UK and filling the pages of The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2013 is not limited to solicitors or law firms.
Uniquely, the UK 200 includes independent editorial on every firm in the table. Here is a selection of this year’s analyses
This year’s The Lawyer UK 200 results convey the clearest message yet that success lies in firms’ evolution to businesses which deliver services. The idea that law firms need to ensure that they operate in a financially sustainable way is hardly a new one. The industry has made huge strides in this regard in recent years, managing their affairs more efficiently and effectively as a means to counter an increasingly tough commercial environment.
It’s the overhead that just keeps costing. Managing property costs is central to many firms’ strategies in straitened times. When it comes to a law firm’s overheads, they don’t come much bigger than property. This is the unavoidable headache that can be the difference between success and failure. Consequently, for the second year we have asked firms to provide details of the property they control and what it costs. Well over 100 were happy to do so.
Our exclusive lockup and WIP figures show firms are having to clamp down hard on the housekeeping to stay afloat. It will come as a surprise to very few reading this that the trend for lockup across the UK 200 is upward.
Business techniques are transforming law firms, helping them battle the slow economy. At last month’s inaugural The Lawyer Management conference and awards, one of the key themes was how the UK’s top firms are increasingly driving efficiencies in their businesses through better use of technology, a sharper focus on financial management and an all-round clearer perspective on the importance of the operational side of the delivery of legal services.
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover will be made available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool...
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The Lawyer published a bumper edition including an executive summary of The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2013 in association with KPMG, in which we reveal the financial rankings for the top 200 law firms in the UK, the top 30 international firms and the top 30 barristers’ chambers. To purchase access to the full report visit www.thelawyer.com/uk200 or contact Daniela Badcock on +44 (0) 207 970 4582