The Lawyer’s new China Elite report contains the most detailed research available on the PRC legal market and contains unparalleled insight into the country's leading law firms. They vary in size, practice focus and geographic coverage, but they all share one common quality – ambition... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Eligible, middle-aged, all-American bachelor, reasonable education, own business, own Volvo, several times married, likes baseball but looking to broaden his horizons seeks traditional English rose of medium build for love and shared profit.
Despite an astonishing 70 per cent of the top 100 US firms already boasting London bases, there are a few US chairmen who reckon there's room for more.
Did anyone realise, for example, that Andrews Kurth has an office in London? Or Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker? They may not be the first names on everyone's lips, but these are $200m (£110.9m) law firms that would fit easily into the UK top 20 if they were British.
The Lawyer has identified six additional US firms from the 30 still without a UK home that are seeking a mate, and they make for a motley crew. Their ambition is clear enough. Gobbling up a firm with Richards Butler's £61m London revenue would propel a US (ahem, sorry), an international firm straight into this year's top 10 international firms in London.
But this is a hard nut to crack. There have been only three changes to the top 10 in the four years that The Lawyer has been conducting its UK firm research.
Dechert has just dropped out of the top 10, with its turnover sinking to £39.5m, having stood at £45.5m four years ago. The firm is replaced by Sidley, which has had to hike its revenue by 72.8 per cent during the last four years just to sneak back into the top 10 (it was ranked ninth in 2002). Four years of static revenue at Cleary Gottlieb (£31m this year) and McDermott (£23m) have seen both firms tumble out of the top 10.
So why not take the easy route. Mayer Brown Rowe & Moore (MBR&M) and Jones Day are the only firms in the top 10 not there three years ago. Both achieved that distinction through merger.
The six firms have little in common except for client bases with London interests and UK-friendly profits per equity partner. Except for Goodwin Procter and Proskauer Rose, all have experienced the benefits of recent mergers. They also have a few tasty clients for your average London partner.
So can we look forward to a year of transatlantic mergers? Well, these things take a while. But for those ready to wed, perhaps they should take a minute to chat with MBR&M's Paul Maher or Jones Day's Russell Carmedy. Despite their urbane exteriors, they might just tell you that it hasn't always been an easy ride.