Mayer Brown rebounds in the City post-Simmons talks

Each spring The Lawyer publishes its ­annual ranking of the top 30 international firms in the UK, a list ­dominated by the largest US firms in the City.

Last week Mayer Brown became the first US office to report its London figures for 2010. In 2009 the firm came fourth on London revenue with $146.3m (£90m)­following a 16 per cent drop in fee income. However, the full-service nature of the firm’s London office dragged it down to fourth from the bottom on revenue per lawyer, with $530,000.

When the top 30 table is printed later this year, the US firm can be confident that at least its total revenue in London has travelled in the right direction. Last year the firm broke through the £100m ­barrier for the first time since 2008, with a 10 per cent rise in revenue to £102m.

The results will be taken internally as ­confirmation that ending merger talks with Simmons & Simmons was the correct ­decision. Certainly, according to London senior partner Sean Connolly, any tie-up with another UK firm is not on the agenda.

“We did a review post-­Simmons and ­concluded that there was no one out there that was a legitimate merger partner,” said ­Connolly. “Therefore we’re going to grow organically and laterally.”
Last Monday (31 January), some of that growth was marked in style. At a celebratory dinner, global real estate head Jeremy Clay raised his glass to the highest number of new equity partners (six) since the 2002 ­merger of Mayer Brown and Rowe & Maw.

The firm’s investment in the City mirrors last year’s promotion of six income (salaried) partners in London. Clay said the investment reflects the increasingly pivotal role of London in Mayer Brown’s international network.

“Of the firm’s top 20 biggest clients, 14 do business in London, generating fees ranging from around $50,000 to $3m,” Clay said. ­”Seeing as this started at zero in 2002 and we had the global recession to weather, we think it’s a good result.”

The London office’s performance contrasts with Mayer Brown’s firmwide results, which saw both total turnover and average profit per equity partner (PEP) effectively remain flat. Total revenue in 2010 stood at $1.11bn, while PEP rose by 1 per cent to reach $1.07m.