Have we reached the high-water mark of globalisation? We’re all living through a period of intense global uncertainty with trade wars, political nativism and the rise of populism, economic stagnation and a worldwide shift in the centres of power. Does this mean that the world’s largest law firms are slamming the brakes on global expansion?

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This year’s Global 200 report will focus on several of the most significant trends in overseas investment affecting and being driven by the largest 200 law firms in the world. While many firms continue to open offices in new jurisdictions, others have closed down regional operations. The past 12 months has also been notable for the lack of large-scale international law firm mergers, another indication that firms’ appetite for international expansion may have cooled.

Yet at the same time the demand for legal services has never been higher. Overall, global legal spend is at a record high. Last year’s Global 200 generated a total of $135.4bn, a 6.4 per cent increase on the previous year’s $127.2bn. The record financial results posted by many US firms, headquartered in the world’s largest legal services market, suggests that this year the total will be even larger than in 2018.

So, where geographically are the world’s leading firms investing and from where are they retreating? And in an age of new entrants, technology-driven legal services providers and a resurgent Big Four, which legal services providers are filling the gaps?

$1bn+ club

Last year the Global 200 identified a distinct class of 39 firms, each of which has a total revenue in excess of $1bn. This group has the financial firepower to recruit the world’s top legal talent, invest in emerging technology platforms and build depth in core markets and practice areas. Their sheer size, the result of continuing global consolidation, is providing these firms with the geographical, financial and legal services muscle to dominate the international market.

This year’s Global 200 will pinpoint the regions where these firms in particular have continued to place their investment bets. It will also underline what these trends tell us – and the market, including clients – about the future direction of the world’s largest law firms.

At your fingertips

The primary data focus of the report will be the revenue generated by the firms and the lawyer headcount it requires to reach the turnover total. A detailed overview feature will analyse the performance of the world’s leading law firms and highlight what this reveals about the future direction of the market.

This year’s Global 200 report will also include a special focus on the Big Four accountants as they continue their push into the global legal services market.

Each of the 200 firms will be profiled, including key data points and strategic direction and focus, with the top 50 firms profiled in detail. Other key metrics such as average revenue per lawyer and partner, office headcount and regional footprint will provide readers with the most accurate analysis of the international progress and level of investment within the global legal market.