UK200 real estate top 15: Herbies pushes revenues up by a third, Ashurst down 23.8 per cent

Herbert Smith Freehills saw real estate revenues jump by a third at the 2012/13 year-end, making it the biggest grower in the UK200 top 15 real estate table.

Herbies narrowly beat Pinsent Masons in terms of growth, with Pinsents pushing real estate revenues up by 30 per cent. Both firms have seen growth as a result of mergers in 2012/13, illustrating that consolidated firms are keeping property deals firmly on the radar.

Both firms have seen a boost to turnover in the past year following Pinsents tie-up with McGrigors in Febuary last year (6 February 2012), generating a 5 per cent turnover boost from £295m to £309m and Herbert Smith joining with Freehills in June 2012 (28 June 2012).

DLA, CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds and Clifford Chance all clung to top spots in the table, though CMS ousted Eversheds from second place, posting a turnover of £78.7, up from £67.8m last year while DLA stayed ahead of the crowd with a 12 per cent boosted turnover of £184.4m.

CMS spread of occupier, investment and development work kept the firm’s books healthy for its 74 partners.

The magic circle also held tight to last year’s positions. Despite rumours of a retrenchment from the sector Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O) all held on to places in the top 15 rankings.

Ashurst hit a new low this year though, as a combination of boosted turnover and a 3 per cent lower chunk for real estate led to a 23.8 per cent dip in real estate revenues.

There was little doubt that mergers were the name of the game for the biggest growers in 2012/13. Pinsent Masons head of real estate Adrian Barlow said consolidated firms were a persuasive incentive for smaller, more competitive panels looking for more from their legal providers. 

The market is demanding a smaller number of legal suppliers and quite a lot of the drive behind that is to have a more focused service delivery because the clients think that that will drive value for them, the scale the law firm can mount now can be critically important if you want to get selected for panel positions,” he said.

Barlow said the lines between practice areas were becoming increasingly blurred as clients looked to firms to provide planning and environmental expertise as well as an increasing bulk of contentious and non-contentious work.

Next year’s figures could lift Ashurst’s performance if the consolidation trend is anything to go by.

For a full analysis of the figures plus table of revenues including revenue per real estate partner, click here.