US firms now dominate London mid-tier, UK200 shows

The largest US firms are now so entrenched in the UK legal market that they are collectively generating over £2bn annually and are major players in the 100 firms bringing in the most revenue from the UK.

New research carried out for the first time for The Lawyer’s UK200 2014, released today (27 October 2014), shows that while no firms headquartered outside the UK feature in the UK top 20, international players dominate in the 21-40 bracket.

This group includes the London office of global firms such as Baker & McKenzie, Latham & Watkins and White & Case, Asia Pacific-headquartered giants King & Wood Mallesons and Slater & Gordon and several of the US-dominated but UK legacy firms that have grown hugely via merger in recent years, notably Squire Patton Boggs, Mayer Brown, Reed Smith and Dentons.

Elite firms including Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Kirkland & Ellis are also now in this group.

For the first time ever the UK200 has integrated UK revenues for the top UK and international firms to produce an overview of the biggest firms in the UK market, allowing true comparisons to be made. Collectively the top 100 firms brought in revenue of £11.3bn last year, of which some 18 per cent or £2.1bn went to overseas-headquartered firms.

Within the 21-40 bracket, overseas firms earned over 50 per cent of the total £2.36bn brought in by the group.

Linklaters tops the integrated UK100 rankings with UK revenue of £546m, ahead of magic circle rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy. Slaughter and May, with UK revenue of £367.5m, comes in fifth place.

Baker & McKenzie is the highest-ranked US firm in 22nd place, with UK fee income last year of £134m.

The data backs up The Lawyer’s recent research revealing that US firms in London are increasingly hiring and promoting local talent (6 October 2014).

The UK200 2014 also reveals that the top 200 UK-headquartered firms, including international giants DLA Piper and Hogan Lovells which retain a high level of UK control, collectively generated £20.2bn last year. It was the first time the group broke through the £20bn barrier, with revenues up 6 per cent from just over £19bn the previous year.

Net profit for the top 100 UK firms was up by 10 per cent, from £5.4bn to £5.9bn.

Leave a Reply