City litigation teams close the gap on CC

The gap is closing between the top City litigation practices following a strong year for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Although Clifford Chance remains the UK’s largest litigation practice, bringing in £183m in the last financial year, contentious turnover was significantly down from 2004’s £225m.

Meanwhile, Freshfields saw an upturn in litigation on the back of such cases as the landmark privilege hearing Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England. The firm’s dispute resolution team recorded a turnover of £130m, up by £12m on 2004’s figure.

Herbert Smith and Lovells remain the only other firms to make more than £100m annually from litigation. Both have larger litigation practices as a percentage of total turnover than Clifford Chance or Freshfields, with Lovells’ litigators contributing 30 per cent of the firm’s total income and Herbert Smith’s dispute resolution team 40 per cent.

Clifford Chance is the only one of the four litigation outfits where partners post revenue per litigation partner in excess of £2m, a rise of 11 per cent on the previous year – although the other firms also improved on 2004’s figures.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have seen no change in the contribution litigation makes to total turnover. The latter’s litigation group brought in £65m last year, equating to a revenue per partner figure of £2.1m, as opposed to A&O’s £641,000 for each of its 103 dispute resolution partners.

Top 10 City litigation performers
Rank Firm Litigation turnover (£m) % of total turnover No. of litigation partners Revenue per litigation partner (£K)
1 Clifford Chance 183 20.0 87 2,103
2 Freshfields 130 16.6 83 1,566
3 Lovells 111 30.0 85 1,306
4 Herbert Smith 106 40.0 71 1,493
5 Irwin Mitchell 81 80.0 63 1,286
6 Clyde & Co 68 65.0 80 850
7 Allen & Overy 66 10.0 103 641
8 Linklaters 65 8.0 31 2,097
9 DLA Piper 61 19.0 86 709
10 Eversheds 59 18.0 53 1,113

Source: The Lawyer