Top 100’s Q1 revenue growth rate plummets

First-quarter (Q1) revenue growth at the UK’s top 100 firms is down massively on the same period last year, with the average coming in at just 6.3 per cent.

A study from Deloitte, which coincides with the publication of The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2008, has revealed that the rate of growth during Q1 has fallen by almost two-thirds from 2007-08. Last year the figure was 15.1 per cent.

According to one senior Clifford Chance partner, the impact of the slowdown – previously believed to have been contained in the Western world – is spreading.

“It’s probably got worse since quarter one,” the partner said. “Asia, the Middle East and Russia are quieter – the downturn has spread almost everywhere.”

However, that view is not shared by Freshfields ­Bruckhaus Deringer or Allen & Overy (A&O).

Tim Jones, chair of Freshfields’ management group, said emerging markets were “smoothing” the impact of the wider economy, but admitted that the next quarter would be “interesting”.

He added: “2007’s first quarter was before the crunch bit. It had a real ‘end of the boom’ feel to it, with lawyers working hard to close deals. There’s a lag on macro events like the credit crunch and September will be the real test.”

A&O managing partner Wim Dejonghe told The Lawyer: “There are still growth areas in the Middle East and parts of Asia, and Russia’s also doing very well, so having operations in those areas helps.”

Jeremy Black, associate partner in Deloitte’s professional practices group, pointed out that, while the drop has been significant, overseas presences should help firms weather the downturn.