The total value of this year’s top 50 US law firms is $5.05bn, a 9 per cent increase on the previous year.

Graph showing top-50-US-v-UK-firms-share-of-the-market, for news article on top US law firms in the UK

To put that into context of the UK market as a whole, the total value of the most recent UK 200 (the annual ranking of the UK’s largest law firms by total revenue for financial year 2016/17) is $30.3bn. Of that, $28.4bn was generated by the firms in the top 100. The US top 50’s $5.05bn total is 17.7 per cent of the UK top 100’s $28.4bn.

This data highlights the inroads the top US law firms have made into the UK legal market, much of it powered by lateral hires. The Lawyer’s unique Global London Index (GLI), which merges the UK revenues of US and UK firms into a single ranking, further underlines the increasing threat posed by the Americans.

The Top 50 US law firms 2018 (first top 20) by revenue

Rank Firm name UK revenue 2017 ($)
1 White & Case  328,000,000
2 Latham & Watkins  309,000,000
3 Kirkland & Ellis  300,000,000
4 Baker McKenzie  240,700,000
5 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom  205,000,000
6 Reed Smith  189,728,000
7 Dentons  179,058,410
8 Shearman & Sterling  169,700,000
9 Squire Patton Boggs  167,000,000
10 Weil Gotshal & Manges  165,373,101
11 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett  164,874,140
12 Mayer Brown  150,000,000
13 Dechert  130,000,000
14 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton  127,000,000
=15 Jones Day  125,000,000
=15 Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCLoy  125,000,000
17 Sullivan & Cromwell  120,000,000
18 Debevoise & Plimpton  112,755,000
19 Sidley Austin  110,500,000
20 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld  96,194,217

This unique ranking takes as its starting point the UK top 100, extracting firms’ UK-generated fee income only. Last year’s table was headed by Linklaters with a UK turnover of £630m, some 44 per cent of its global total of £1.438bn.

Last year’s GLI total was $17.4bn, of which the 29 US firms that featured contributed $4.2bn, or 24 per cent. In other words, according to The Lawyer’s exclusive data and research, US firms now account for a quarter of all fee income generated by the leading firms in the London legal market.

While it is not yet possible to make a direct comparison between the financial results of US firms (for 2017) and UK firms (for financial year 2017/18), the 9 per cent rise of the full US Top 50’s fee income would seem to indicate that this group will represent an even larger chunk of the UK domestic legal market than ever.

If US firm stateside leaders needed encouragement that the London market still provides a return on investment, here it is.

Read the The Lawyer’s US Top 50 report for more detailed analysis and benchmarking data. This year’s report, which annually highlights the activities and strategies of the world’s largest international US law firms in London ranked by UK revenue, focuses specifically on lateral hires. To purchase a copy please click here.

US Top 50 – 2018 report