The story so far

Last week, The Lawyer reported its preliminary findings on 2003 revenues for the top City firms. The majority are set to post hikes, with Lovells outstripping its peers with an impressive 20 per cent increase to £390m for 2002-03. Freshfields, Allen & Ovey and Herbert Smith also reported a rise in turnover, while Clifford Chance and CMS Cameron McKenna's fee income has remained fairly static.

John Robinson, relationship director, Barclays professional practices team
“There are many things a firm can do to improve its bottom line. For example, it can let spare space, reduce its workforce and release under-performing partners. It can also defer non-urgent expenditure. Although it is difficult for a firm to increase its top line, it may achieve this by winning new clients, cross-selling to existing clients and by diversifying its offerings.”

Giles Rubens, director, Hildebrandt
“There are a couple of factors that will affect a firm's turnover. First, it will depend on which sectors a firm focuses on. Take Lovells for example, it is very strong in property and litigation, which have not suffered as much as the other practice areas. Second, during any difficult period there will be something of a re-examination by clients. So perhaps some firms that aren't so competitive aren't doing as well, while the more competitive ones are increasing their market share.”

Joanne Street, business manager, Hays ZMB
“The figures are important, particularly now, because partners considering a move want to see that their target firms are on the up. There used to be scepticism about the accuracy of the figures, but now people trust them. Partners look at them, they are influenced by them and they want to feel that they are in an environment where fellow partners are increasing their practices and the profits. Figures cannot be looked at in isolation, however, as the equity structure of the firm can skew them.”