What is the ratio of your fee-earners to business services staff? And more to the point, how does it compare with your peers?

If you don’t know or are simply curious about how your firm stacks up on this critical indicator of business efficiency then you need to read the latest in this year’s new UK 200 series: Business Services.

DLA Piper, the number one firm in this year’s revenue table, is also the firm with highest number of non fee-earning staff. The global firm had 3,529.26 business services and other staff globally last year compared with 4,316.6 fee-earners, a ratio of 0.82:1. This might not surprise you, but the fact that when firms are ranked by the number of their non fee-earning staff the order changes might.

On this metric all four magic circle firms remain drop two places, with the second and third slots taken by Hogan Lovells and Norton Rose Fulbright. The order of the quartet also changes. Clifford Chance stays as the largest of the four in terms of business services staff but Freshfields moves up from fourth to second. The latter firm also has the highest ratio of non fee-earning staff among its peers at 0.95:1.

Every firm in the market is constantly analysing a raft of efficiency metrics but few are as fundamental as this ratio. Not every firm in the market has the scale to do a Freshfields and open up a regional shared services centre – although an increasing number are doing just that – but there are plenty of other ways to skin the efficiency cat.

This is just a tiny snapshot of the exclusive benchmarking data contained in The Lawyer UK 200: Business Services. Published on 30 November, the full report delves into the detail on it headcount ratios in firms’ largest teams including marketing, HR, IT, finance and secretarial. It has been purpose built to help you make business critical decisions.

Don’t get left behind.

Matt Byrne
Deputy editor

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