The top 10 most profitable firms in the world all have an average profit per equity partner (PEP) of more than $2m (£1.14m). And only one UK firm is in that list: Slaughter and May. Slaughters is now the eighth most profitable firm in the world, up one place from the previous year.
However, Linklaters put on the biggest spurt in global terms. Its 26 per cent hike in profitability last year propelled it to twelfth place, overtaking both Skadden and Weil Gotshal & Manges. Linklaters’ bottom line was powered not only by its stellar European M&A practice, but its resurgent Asia practice.
The other UK firms held their own, in comparative terms, in the global profit rankings and are all clustered just outside the top 20. Herbert Smith dropped out of the global top 20 to 22nd. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dropped from 22nd to 23rd; Allen & Overy climbed one place to 25th, but was overtaken by Clifford Chance, which rose three places to become the 24th most profitable firm in the world. The UK firms are all in the $1.5m (£857,000) range, which would equate to a respectable showing on Wall Street. Their PEP figures put them in the same ballpark as Latham & Watkins and Shearman & Sterling.
Perhaps the most surprising appearance was SJ Berwin, which made its first-ever showing in the The Lawyer Global 100, going straight in as the 29th most profitable firm in the world.