As some businesses get twitchy with Brexit looming, early signs are that a number of City law firms are unruffled. Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills all posted rising profits for the financial year ending 30 April 2019.
Clifford Chance's revenue has increased 4% to £1,693 million, and partnership profits have risen 2% to £637 million, resulting in PEP up just 1% to GBP 1.62 million. Whilst not as stellar a rise as last year (when profits rose 13% and PEP leaped 16%) in the current climate it is still a positive result and a record year for the firm.
"I am delighted that we have delivered a fourth consecutive year of growth under our strategy, and the firm's best financial results to date" said Managing Partner Matthew Layton. He noted that the results continued an upward trajectory despite "rising tensions in the US-China trade dispute, a further slowdown in China and the Eurozone, ongoing emerging markets volatility, and continued uncertainty about Brexit". He added that whilst this "dampened business confidence" (i.e. some big deals likely went south) it also "created opportunities" for clients to "help them navigate the turbulence" (i.e. there's scope for lawyers to make dosh in tough times).
A struggling equity partner, yesterday
At Freshfields, revenue rose 5% to £1,472 million, and profits were up by 1% to £688 million. PEP increased by 6% to £1.839 million. Again, the rises were more modest than last year (when profits and PEP rose 12%) but pretty decent in the current climate. "As we deliver our best ever results" said Managing Partner Stephan Eilers, "we can continue to invest significantly in the future of the firm".
At Herbert Smith Freehills, revenue was up 4% to £965.7 million. Profit leapt 11% to £306.7 million, resulting in PEP also jumping 11% to £949,000. CEO Mark Rigotti said "our financial and market performance is the strongest it has ever been." He added, perhaps mentally imagining himself on a horse in front of his line of HSF troops, "we will continue to invest heavily in our people and culture, with an emphasis on health and wellbeing and empowering everyone to develop to their full potential in a modern, progressive environment".