Herbies on course to break £400m barrier

Herbies on course to break £400m barrier THE UK’s leading firms are expecting a record year as the first indications of financial results trickled through from finance departments last week.

Herbert Smith is leading the way with initial estimates projecting a 20 per cent rise in turnover, from £334m to more than £400m.

Senior partner David Gold said: “It’s been a bumper year. Levels of profitability are pretty similar in each office. In Dubai, where we’ve been for just one year, we’ve turned in a profit. It’s lower than elsewhere, but still an incredible achievement.”

Managing partners across the UK are banking on a barnstorming first half to see them through the downturn in the second half of the year. The senior partner of one magic circle firm commented: “It was an excellent first quarter, not so good second, less good third and an even worse fourth.”

Despite the slowdown, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is also expecting a record year. Fellow magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters are more cautiously optimistic, but insiders are predicting they will beat last year’s records.

A magic circle partner said: “All firms’ figures are going to look as good as we’ve seen with the US firms. It’s unhelpful, as it makes it look as though firms are healthier than they actually are.”

Most of the City’s mid-market firms are expecting turnover rises of between 10 and 20 per cent, while those in the regions are also happy with their progress.

Wragge & Co senior partner Quentin Poole said: “The first half of last year was stronger than the last quarter, but on average it looks pretty good. If we’d continued as in the first half, we would have beaten budget comfortably, but as it is we’ll just about hit it.”

Despite the buoyancy regarding the last financial year, there is a looming dread as firm managements prepare for a crash.

A Norton Rose partner told The Lawyer: “The legal industry as a whole has had a good year and we’re in line with that. What happens in the future will depend on the economy.”