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25 October, 2018 - 17:21 By Tony Quested

The Legal 500 Guide 2018 East Anglia

As Cambridge’s Science & Technology cluster grows at an unprecedented rate so more national and international law firms and IP specialists choose to put down roots here.

The effect has been to grow the quality of legal expertise not just in Cambridge but across East Anglia and thereby keep record levels of work in the region that in former years would have gone to London.

The law pool in the region is the largest ever; more law firms and a record number of patent and trademark attorneys are thriving here but the region is by no means over-lawyered as more and more local companies scale internationally with all the many and varied legislative demands global expansion entails.

As The Lawyer noted in its guide to the UK’s top 200 law firms, a record high fee level would appear to reflect a boom time in the profession – and in the business sectors they serve.

As The Lawyer reports, this year’s 200 largest UK-headquartered law firms generated a total revenue of £25.68 billion, a rise of almost 10 per cent on last year.

The total number of fee-earners, qualified lawyers, partners and business services staff all rose by around five per cent.

The UK’s 100 largest law firms billed a record £24.1bn in 2017/18, the largest revenue ever achieved by the group and a rise of almost 10 per cent on 2016/17.

Eversheds Sutherland was the highest ranked firm with substantial East Anglian presence in the top 200, moving up from 13th place to 10th with revenue of £721.8 million. Taylor Wessing was 18th (£301.5m) and Mills & Reeve 37th (£106.3m).

Then came Penningtons Manches (48th, £76.1m), Birketts (62nd, £48.1m), Bircham Dyson Bell (84th, £33.7m), Howes Percival (118th, £20.1m), Ashtons Legal (123rd, £19.1m), Hewitsons (127th, £18.3m), Stone King (128th, £17.9m) and Taylor Vinters (133rd, £17.3m).

On the solicitors’ front, it was informative to see that – despite the influx of newcomers to the local scene, the longest established law firms continued to dominate the East Anglia rankings in the latest issue of The Legal 500 Guide.

The new issue marked a first for the publisher which eschewed the massive print edition to go exclusively online for the first time in its long and distinguished history.

Mills & Reeve, headed in Cambridge by Nick Finlayson-Brown, and Birketts –thriving under the stewardship of CEO Jonathan Agar – together claimed around half the No.1 positions in East Anglia across the various disciplines covered in detail by the guide. They had 61 top spots between them, either stand alone or with others, with Mills & Reeve claiming 32 and Birketts 29. 

No other firm managed to get into double figures. Taylor Vinters and Eversheds Sutherland each claimed nine Tier 1 positions, Hewitsons and Howes Percival eight apiece, Greenwoods seven and Ashtons Legal six.

The Legal 500 Guide has this year named its leading individuals and ones2watch – the next generation lawyers as it calls them – within each particular category of the law.

Here again Mills & Reeve and Birketts dominate with just under half the leading individuals and next generation lawyers chosen for the East Anglia section of the guide.

Mills & Reeve has most leading individuals with 53, with Birketts second on 44. That is more than double the number of the third placed law firm – Ashtons Legal – which has 20 leading individuals. Howes Percival has 18, Hewitsons 14, Taylor Vinters 12, Eversheds Sutherland 11, Greenwoods eight and Buckles seven.

Four firms in particular will be heartened by the number of next generation lawyers rated by the guide because this evidences an upcoming talent pipeline. Birketts leads the way in East Anglia with 18, Mills & Reeve has 13, Taylor Vinters nine and Greenwoods six.

In other areas of the law East Anglian firms also excel – none more so than Fenners Chambers which has produced another outstanding year in the elevated world of the Bar. The Cambridge Chambers is again named a leading set in the whole of the South East and has a number of individuals lauded by The Legal 500.

A record number of firms with Cambridge roots excel in the rankings for Patent & Trademark attorneys and for general Intellectual Property work.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Nick Finlayson-Brown of Mills & Reeve

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