Firms’ revenues come bouncing back

Early figures show plenty of top firms upping their turnover 

Last week the legal bigwigs put out their results for all to see. Half of The Lawyer Top 50 have released their figures so far and it all makes for interesting reading (see table, below).

Despite predictions that it would be another flatlining year, most firms in the top 50 have pushed their revenues upwards. Mass consolidation has been the driver for many, and looking at the figures alone, one could be forgiven for thinking that DWF has somehow bettered the performance of its peers, with a monster 84 per cent hike in revenue to £188m from £102m.

The growth hardly comes as a surprise, however, when you consider that this has been an acquisitive 12 months for the firm. In June 2012, DWF merged with Scottish firm Biggart Baillie, creating an outfit with a combined turnover of around £118.2m. It followed this in February by tying up with Fishburns and then, again in February – and less than 12 months after shelving mergers talks with Cobbetts – DWF took over the failing firm for what some might consider the bargain basement price of £3.9m.

As impressive as it seems on paper, the firm is also in the middle of a programme of far-reaching cuts with more than 80 roles at risk. So the old business adage still rings true – rapid growth does not come without sacrifice.

Over at RPC, meanwhile, organic growth over the past 12 months is up by 20.7 per cent, to £82.1m. And this comes on the back of a 13 per cent jump in 2011/12, to £68m. New offices aside – the firm opened in Hong Kong with a five-lawyer team from Clyde & Co – RPC has made 26 lateral hires to its all-equity partnership since 2008 and it is starting to pay off.

Osborne Clarke (OC) and Mishcon de Reya have also pushed turnover up by 14 per cent, to £112m and £83.4m respectively. Both firms are looking overseas for growth and both are looking to do it through hires abroad.

Since 2008/09 OC has grown its revenues by precisely a third, up from £84m, while Mishcon has achieved a whopping 76.3 per cent increase from £47.3m over the same period. Compare that with RPC, where the firm has grown by 37.6 per cent from £60.1m.

Of course, revenue is only part of the picture and, as The Lawyer went to press, many firms were still doing the sums on their average profit per equity partner figures and profit margins.

The true picture will come into focus in the coming weeks as we dig deep to bring you the true stories behind the financials.