Vital statistics tell their own story

The Lawyer’s editorial team has been hunkering down with a mountain of statistics as it embarks on the gargantuan research project that is The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report.

The most comprehensive analysis of the profession’s financial health is out at the beginning of September.

The fruits of this labour have been slowly leaking out via our hugely popular Top of the PEPs blog on, and today on the front page we reveal the financial results of the UK’s top 30 law firms for the first time this year.

Comparing these results with 2000 was the fun bit. As detailed on the cover, the top 10 remains an exclusive club.

Norton Rose has climbed back in after a few years in the doldrums, and Ashurst ­finally broke in after we moved DLA Piper out of the UK 200 and into the international section following its semi-integration with its US operations.

It is among the next 20 where the change has been vast. The emergence of the silver circle has been one of the biggest catalysts of change, but equally notable is the steady progress of a well-managed band of national firms.

Others continue to struggle. Hammonds’ decline has been the most dramatic, but Denton Hall’s merger with Wilde Sapte has failed to pay off in the manner of those that linked Pinsents with Masons and Addleshaws with Theodore Goddard. Dentons’ 18.5 per cent growth during the last eight years is the slowest of any top 30 firm’s.

One of the more startling features of the legal millennium so far has been the largely unheralded rise of a band of firms that has gatecrashed the top 30 after an extremely unpromising start. Bird & Bird, Olswang, Osborne Clarke and, to a lesser extent, Taylor Wessing were hit hard by the dotcom crash, but remained committed to focused ­strategies that have since paid off.

Bird & Bird recently scooped the International Law Firm of the Year prize at The Lawyer Awards and is the top 30’s fastest-growing firm, with ­revenue up by 310 per cent in the last eight years. That’s a pretty amazing statistic. Spare a thought for us as we spend the summer looking for more.