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Top 100 firms in the UK reach a record £20bn

Posted by: Laurence Simons 31/10/16
The largest 100 law firms in the UK billed a total of £20bn in fees last year, the largest amount ever achieved. According to The Lawyer’s annual UK 200 report the top 100 firms generated a total turnover of £20.13bn in 2015/16, a 5% increase on 2014/15’s £19.24bn. In the past five years the total value of The Lawyer’s top 100 has grown by an incredibly significant 19.2%, from £16.89bn in 2011/12.

The rise of almost £1bn was achieved in a year when mergers were notable for their absence in the UK market. The bottom line also grew in 2015/16, with total net profit across the top 100 rising by 4.7% from £6.191bn to £6.492bn.

A total of 11 firms reached the million pound average profit per equity partner (PEP) waterline this year, with Mishcon de Reya and Sackers both on £1m at the lower end and Slaughter and May leading the way on an estimated £1.9m. The biggest proportional rise in PEP was recorded at Newcastle’s Ward Hadaway, which experienced a staggering rise of 58% to £352,000, while the largest firm to register a double digit PEP rise was Addleshaw Goddard, up 39% to £682,000.

However the revenue per lawyer (RPL) reveals an interesting split in the Magic Circle firms. One Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, made the quartet of firms that reached the £600,000 RPL mark, with an RPL of £645,000. The other three are Slaughters (£915,000), Dickson Minto (£613,000) and Sackers (£611,000). However the highest RPL recorded across the entire UK 200 came from Bott & Co and Drydensfairfax, both of which fell outside of the top 100, but posted RPLs of £1.9m.

The increasing number of firms reaching the £1m PEP, the success of independent firms in terms of RPL and indeed record £20bn in revenue by the top 100 are all signs of the strength of the UK’s legal market, which is certainly good news for lawyers.
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