The optimum ratio of fee-earners to business services staff for UK-headquartered firms is 0.7:1, exclusive new research by The Lawyer has revealed.

The data, which forms the basis of the new UK 200: Business Services report, highlights how firms across the market are finding ways of working more efficiently, including examining staffing ratios.

It includes a raft of benchmarking data both at a firm-wide level and across six core business services teams: HR, IT, marketing, PR and BD, finance, facilities and secretarial/document production.

At a firm-wide level DLA Piper has the highest number of business services staff of any firm headquartered in the UK, with a total of 3,529 staff worldwide. The firm had 4,316 fee-earners globally giving it a ratio of 0.82:1 (see tables below).

In contrast Hogan Lovells had an estimated 2,750 fee-earners last year with 3,050 non fee-earning staff globally, making it the only firm in this year’s top 10 to have a ratio in excess of 1:1.

Business services - top numbers and ratios

The firm’s deputy COO Darren Mitchell said that as both a global firm and one that had grown significantly in recent years via a major merger Hogan Lovells’ staffing ratios had changed notably.

“As a general trend our ratios have been going down in a terms of business services to qualified lawyers they’re now at around 0.7 to one,” said Mitchell. “But they vary depending on the country or jurisdiction.”

While most firms are targeting efficiencies across all of their business services groups, today’s full report also includes indications that many firms are now focused on building up non fee-earning capabilities.

An analysis of all of the staffing ratios at this year’s top 10-largest firms by revenue reveals that in every case except one, Norton Rose Fulbright, the ratio of business services staff to fee-earners has increased over the past three years.

An executive summary of the UK 200: Business Services report is published today in The Lawyer. To purchase the full report please contact Richard Edwards on 0207 970 4672 or at