Data dive: US firms in the City – a decade of growth

Posted June 2021
Written by

US firms have certainly made their mark in the City over the last 10 years – just over half of this year’s City 50 firms are headquartered across the Atlantic. In this data dive, we look at the US firms that have performed the best in the UK legal market since 2011.

Dominating the rankings for the US firms is Kirkland & Ellis with an estimated London revenue of $534m, followed by Latham & Watkins posting a City turnover figure of $520m.

Out of this year’s top 50 US firms, 24 have featured in The Lawyer’s US 50 report since 2011.

Marking the largest London revenue growth over the last decade is powerhouse Kirkland, up 377 per cent from $112m in 2011 to $534m this year. Meanwhile revenue per partner grew by 60.8 per cent to $4,092k from $2,545k in 2011.

Over the last five years, the firm has increased its partner headcount by 108 per cent from 62 partners in 2016 to 130 this year. And in the same time the firm made 19 lateral hires in its City office, while promoting 61 associates into partnership from 2016 to 2020.

Simpson Thacher follows with a 317 per cent growth from $55.6m in 2011 to $232m in the spring of 2021. London partner headcount grew by 23 per cent in the last five years from 19 in 2016 to this year’s 23 partners. Since the beginning of the pandemic the firm boosted its City office by recruiting eight new partners.

Half of these lateral hires were poached from the firm’s UK counterparts. Last year Simpson hired tax partner Yash Rupal from Linklaters and Clifford Chance’s Owen Lysak to bulk up its banking and finance practice. Freshfields’ Adam Gallagher and Allen & Overy’s Antonio Bavasso to grow its London restructuring and insolvency and litigation practices respectively.

And in third place is New York-headquartered Milbank soaring its City revenue from $65.3m in 2011 to $189.4m this year, taking the firm’s decade growth to 190 per cent. In six years, Milbank exclusively recruited all its lateral partner hires from UK firms taking in Allen & Overy’s Alex Tao last year and Mona Vaswani in 2019, Linklaters’ Manzer Ijaz and Matthew Hagopian in 2015 and Nick Swinburne from Clifford Chance recruited in 2015.

To mark the expansion of its offering in the City, Milbank moved to its new premises at 100 Liverpool Street early this year. Previously occupying 54,000 square feet at its spaces at 10 Gresham Street and 125 Wood Street, the firm has announced it has signed for 70,000 square feet with an option to take more space to accommodate the firm’s growth in London.

The only firm to have experienced a revenue decline in London is WilmerHale. Though the firm does not provide office revenue, The Lawyer estimates that the firm’s City turnover declined by 15.7 per cent from $59.3m in 2011 to an estimated figure of $50m this year. And in the same time the firm’s partner headcount also decreased by 17 per cent from 12 in 2011 to 10 this year. For the last three years the firm’s London partner headcount has remained at this figure. But while there were no associate to partner promotions made, WilmerHale hired Freshfields litigators Justin Watts and Matthew Shads in 2017.

Posted June 2021
Written by