The top five commercial law firms in the Midlands have pulled in more than a quarter of a billion pounds in fees during the last financial year, The Lawyer’s UK 200 Annual Report 2008 has found.
The magazine revealed that revenues at the big five grew by a healthy 13.2 per cent from £231.6 million in 2006/07 to £262.3 million in 2007/08 - but this trend is set to change in the forthcoming financial year.
The Lawyer’s Midlands correspondent, Luke McLeod-Roberts, said that early indications are that the first quarter of 2008/09 will be steady, but with the economic downturn hitting businesses, law firms will see their earning power reduced as the year goes on.
“This year has already seen some law firms with Midlands offices, such as Bevan Brittan, laying off lawyers and staff in a bid to stay competitive,” he said. “As the economy continues to slow and the amount of corporate and commercial deals reduce, more law firm employees are expected to get the boot. The lack of work will inevitably hit firms’ profitability.”
In the last financial year, however, three of the biggest five law firms posted double-digit growth.
Wragge & Co claimed the top spot for the Midlands, bringing in £125.6 million in revenues, which was more than two and a half times the turnover of its nearest competitor, HBJ Gateley Wareing.
HBJ, however, saw the largest overall growth seeing its revenues increase by 29.1 per cent from £35 million in 2006/08 to £45.2 million in the last financial year.
This was despite its average profit per equity partner (PEP) dropping by 5.6 per cent to £268,000 in 2007/08 from £284,000 the previous year. The loss of profits has seen the firm move down the PEP table by one spot.
The big five’s average PEP grew by more than 15 per cent from £276,800 to £319,600 last year.
The Midland top five law firms by turnover are:
1 Wragge & Co (£125.6 million)
2 HBJ Gateley Wareing (£45.2 million)
3 Browne Jacobson (£34.8 million)
4 Freeth Cartwright (£33.46 million)
5 Martineau (£23.2 million)
The top five ranked by profit per equity partner are:
1 Wragge & Co (£483,000)
2 Browne Jacobson £354,000)
3 HBJ Gateley Wareing (£268,000)
4 Martineau (£260,000)
5 Freeth Cartwright (£233,000)
How the Midlands top five stand in the national rankings (previous year in brackets)
25 (25) Wragge & Co
63 (69) HBJ Gateley Wareing
75 (74) Browne Jacobson
77 (76) Freeth Cartwright
90 (86) Martineau