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7 September, 2016 - 11:44 By Tony Quested

Six Cambridge law firms help UK’s top 100 pass £20bn turnover

legal, league table, cambridge

Revenues for the UK’s 100 largest law firms in the last year have exceeded £20 billion with profits of more than £6bn, Legal Business magazine reports.

Six firms with a significant Cambridge presence feature in the rankings – in order of rating, Eversheds, Taylor Wessing, Irwin Mitchell, Mills & Reeve, Penningtons Manches and Birketts.

The league table lists firms by turnover and compares the latest figures not only to the previous year’s revenues but also to the performance from 2011 to present day.

In this latter regard, Mills & Reeve and Birketts – both born and raised in East Anglia – are star turns. Mills & Reeve has seen turnover leap 30 per cent in that timeframe and Birketts a stunning 65 per cent.

Legal Business, commenting on the UK scene as a whole, says that “in a return to form, 2015/16 saw the UK’s Magic Circle move ahead, unlike the previous year where entrepreneurial mid-tier law firms outperformed their larger elite peers.”

The survey was first published 24 years ago when the top 100 collectively billed their clients just £2.7bn and made profits of £891m.

Times and takings have moved on apace. The Cambridge firms in the rankings clearly benefit from doing business in Europe’s leading science & technology cluster.

Eversheds, which has major operations in Cambridge especially, is the highest ranked of the local contingent in 13th position with turnover of £405.5m. That’s seven per cent up on the previous year and 14 per cent from 2011-16. Profit per Equity Partner (PEP) is down one per cent to £742k.

Taylor Wessing is in 17th with turnover of £254.5m – up six per cent year-on-year and 32 per cent on 2011-16 figures. PEP is £402k. Irwin Mitchell is 19th with turnover of £221.3m. No comparative figures are given for last year or for the period from 2011-16 but PEP is £482k.

Mills & Reeve, which is expanding from an East Anglia base, is 45th – up a place from last time – with turnover of £87.2m. That’s up seven per cent year-on-year and by 30 per cent from 2011-16. PEP is £373k.

Penningtons Manches is 56th with turnover of £61.6m – up seven per cent on the previous year; PEP is £269k.

Birketts jumps six places from last year into 70th in the hot hundred with turnover of £39.2m – up 12 per cent year-on-year and 65 per cent on 2011-16 figures. Profit per equity partner is £264k.

Legal Business managing editor Mark McAteer said: “2016 has been a challenging year for the UK legal professional. A year that started with much promise quickly evaporated with stalling global economies and political uncertainty, particularly the UK’s decision to leave the UK and the US Presidential elections. Larger firms have posted a stronger performance against this backdrop, with mid-tier firms less consistent.”

The UK’s top 100 law firms in 2016 have a combined turnover of £20.19bn, a fall of two per cent on the £20.64bn reported in 2015. The number of lawyers employed by the UK’s top 100 law firms has also dropped for the second year running to 62,214.

Despite efforts to increase gender equality, the UK legal profession continues to struggle. Whilst at junior levels the numbers are evenly matched, just 26 per cent of partners are female, falling to 19 per cent for equity partners.

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