The Lawyer UK 200 Rank17

Bird & Bird, often known as ‘TwoBirds’, is predominantly known for its large and impressive intellectual property practice – so large, in fact, that for many years the department had a whole office to itself on Fetter Lane, while the rest of the firm was housed in various offices over the road. This situation did not help the image of the IP lawyers being detached from the rest of the firm in their ivory tower. After years of waiting, all

Bird & Bird, often known as ‘TwoBirds’, is predominantly known for its large and impressive intellectual property practice – so large, in fact, that for many years the department had a whole office to itself on Fetter Lane, while the rest of the firm was housed in various offices over the road. This situation did not help the image of the IP lawyers being detached from the rest of the firm in their ivory tower. After years of waiting, all TwoBirds lawyers finally moved in together in one purpose-built office at the end of 2016.

David Kerr, 2Birds
David Kerr

Since 1996 the firm has been led by CEO David Kerr. In that time, the firm has been transformed, largely through international expansion. In the 2000s there was a significant European drive. Between 2000 and 2005 the firm opened in Paris, Stockholm, The Hague, Madrid, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Rome, Milan and Beijing. In the following five years came Lyon, Bratislava, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Helskini and, Shanghai. The firm now has 28 offices globally, all but three (London, Paris and Hong Kong) opened since the turn of the millennium. The firm entered the US in 2017 with a San Francisco launch.

Since 2009, firm-wide revenue has risen by 111 per cent from £186.3m to £303.2m. The total number of lawyers at a firm that has become ever-more international has nearly doubled, from 661 to 1,068 while the total number of partners is up by 51 per cent from 192 to 291. However, average revenue per lawyer has barely budged since 2009 while average revenue per partner has inched up, from £970,000 to £1.04m.

The firm’s profitability has also failed to keep pace with its flag planting-driven turnover expansion. Atypically among the UK’s leading firms, Bird & Bird’s profit margin has stayed resolutely below the 20 per cent mark for the past decade. These later figures have led to some dissatisfaction with Kerr’s leadership in recent years.

Dominic Cook, a former Bird & Bird corporate partner and first chief of the firm’s consulting arm Baseline remains the only lawyer to challenge him for the CEO role. Cook’s challenge came in 2016 and he came close to winning, but a large proportion of the partnership, abstained from voting in the election. Kerr has shown no indication that he will stand down any time soon and the question of succession at the firm will doubtless become increasingly prominent as the years go by.

CEO Chair
1996 David Kerr
2001 Hamish Sandison
2007 Michael Frie
2016 Massimiliano Mostardini

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Bird & Bird?

1st year trainee: £38,000

2nd year trainee: £40,000

What is the NQ salary at Bird & Bird?

NQ: £62,000

Number of trainees: 36

Bird-Bird-retention-2017

BIRD & BIRD FACTS

Founded: 1846

Location: Fetter Lane