Law firm profits set to break all-time record

Clifford Chance aims for £800m;A&O revise budgets upwards; Simmons figures indicate recovery

Law firms are reporting bumper half-year results, with many up on the same period last year, and also ahead of budget.

Clifford Chance is believed to have a turnover of £450m for its half-year, with £90m billed in the last month alone. Its year-end target is £800m, which is £215m up on last year.

Clifford Chance has appointed over 450 lawyers since its US and German mergers a year ago.

Fellow magic circle firm Allen & Overy is also understood to have had a strong six-month period, and is considering revising its budget upwards.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, too, is believed to have pulled in £250m.

This is the first full half-year with Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund on board, and the first quarter with Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber. Sources claim that the latter dramatically cut its work in progress in the buildup to the merger.

But it is not just the magic circle firms that are benefiting from the buoyant global economy.

Denton Wilde Sapte, which also underwent a merger this year, has recorded its first half-year since its creation in February. It is believed to have grossed £60m, 3.8 per cent above budget. Like most firms, it has a phased budget to allow for seasonal variations and these figures include the slower summer months. Its overseas offices are marginally behind budget, although it has spent most of its first financial year bolstering both Denton International and its global offices.

Herbert Smith, whose financial year runs from the beginning of April, is on target to make £200m at its year end, a 20 per cent increase on the same period in 1999.

Simmons & Simmons has put a shaky 1999 firmly behind it. Turnover for its interim results is £70m – £12m up on the same period last year. The London corporate practice contributed £31.5m to the total amount.

Other interim results include DLA, which has seen a 26 per cent increase on the same period last year to £79.8m; CMS Cameron McKenna’s interim turnover has risen from last year’s £63.3m to £76m; SJ Berwin‘s figures have risen to £40m from £32m; Richards Butler’s has increased by over 25 per cent from £29m last year; and Nabarro Nathanson is on course to hit its year-end target of £85m, while last year it reported £77m for the same period.