US firms’ City bases outstrip UK firms’ RPL by 50 per cent

Revenue per lawyer (RPL) at the top 30 US firms’ London operations was nearly 50 per cent higher than at the leading UK firms, new data shows.

The largest US firms in London averaged an RPL figure of $883,460 (£547,140), compared with £372,230 at the top 30 UK firms by turnover. The difference represents a 47 per cent higher performance in RPL terms by US firms against their UK rivals.

The figures are for Stateside firms’ 2011 results and British firms’ 2011-12 financial-year postings published in The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2012.

Sullivan & Cromwell came out as the leading US firm in the City by this measure, bringing in $1.989m (£1.229m) per lawyer, followed by WilmerHale on $1.666m (£1.029m) and Davis Polk & Wardwell on $1.241m (£766,522).

Slaughter and May’s estimated RPL figure of £770,000 put it at the top of the pile for UK firms, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in second place on £566,000 and Linklaters third on £561,000.

DAC Beachcroft was at the bottom of the top 30 firm in terms of RPL, on £148,000. K&L Gates was the lowest-ranked in London out of the top 30 US firms in the capital, earning $348,000 (£214,987) per lawyer in the UK.

DAC Beachcroft senior partner Simon Hodson commented: “I suspect we’re the only one of the firms in the list with a large defendant litigation practice, and by definition in that practice area fees are lower. The principal reason for the difference will be having a large volume defendant litigation business.”

Read the full The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report online here