The Transatlantic Elite

When The Lawyer published the Global 100 in 2006, ranking the world’s largest law firms in order of revenue, a total of 17 UK-headquartered firms made the grade. The 2007-08 financial results for UK firms will emerge, piecemeal, over the summer, ultimately revealing the latest global rankings. But already the indications are that the figures for the largest and most prestigious UK firms will serve to emphasise their positions as world forces.

Research by The Lawyer suggests this year will see a very significant increase in average profit across the magic circle. If confirmed, the results would underline the fact that over the past four years the top UK firms have begun to outstrip all but the top four or five of their US rivals.

Like it or not, the key measure of an elite firm remains its average profit per equity partner (PEP). Law firms are nothing more than pools of talent, collections of (usually) highly skilled professionals. The more skilled, the more money they demand.

For any firm looking to fill in key areas, be they in the US or UK, the ability to offer the most competitive packages is what counts. But finding a way to reach the point where a firm can offer the most attractive remuneration is where its strategy, global platform, vision and verve come in. Get this right and you build an international brand. And that international brand is the subject of The Lawyer Transatlantic Elite.



When The Lawyer published the Global 100 in 2006, ranking the world’s largest law firms in order of revenue, a total of 17 UK-headquartered firms made the grade. more >>

The Lawyer; nominates 10 of the most influential lawyers of the next decade who are likely to lead firms’ thinking and shape the future of the transatlantic elite.

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When The Lawyer published the financial results of the top 50 US law firms on 24 March, it confirmed what most people already suspected: transactionally, 2007 had been over the top.

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For UK and US firms, becoming transatlantic powerhouses is crucial to the development and success of their global networks.

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Arguably the most transformative recent events in the Asian legal market have come from the hungry pack of those challenging the Sweet Sixteen.

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The Middle East has long been a hotbed of legal activity for the world’s most international law firms.


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Big-ticket private equity deals may be gone for now, but last year a raft of sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Middle East began pumping money into foreign investments, providing much-needed cash injections amid the ongoing credit squeeze.

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In April this year the online US law firm merger tracking service hosted by legal management consultancy Altman Weil reported 17 acquisitions in the first quarter of 2008.

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A global brand? If asked about international branding, the last thing the majority of partners in the 16 firms profiled over the next 10 pages would think of is their own businesses.

To most lawyers, branding is something their clients do, not prestigious law firms.

But the new transatlantic legal market demands change. Firms at all levels need to sell themselves, just like their clients do. What these Sweet Sixteen firms have in common is that, one way or another, they have found a way to sell themselves on both sides of the Atlantic to the very top clients in the market.

Top clients, top lawyers, top finances – these are the building blocks of a global law firm brand. Other firms may have part of the equation. Today, these are the firms we believe are closest to nailing down all three.

Here then are the Sweet Sixteen…

Allen & Overy

Cleary Gottlieb

Clifford Chance


Davis Polk

Debevoise & Plimpton

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Kirkland & Ellis

Latham & Watkins


Simpson Thacher

Skadden Arps

Slaughter and May

Sullivan & Cromwell

Wachtell Lipton

Weil Gotshal & Manges