Merger boom boosts top solicitors' pay packets

Some top City solicitors are earning pounds 600,000 to pounds 700,000 a year as a result of the continuing boom in mergers and acquisitions and other corporate activity, according to figures released today.

While the Legal Business 100 shows the surge in earnings that boosted revenues at Britain's 100 biggest law firms by more than 14 per cent, to pounds 3.73bn, is spread across the country, the City of London's leading firms dominate.

The turnover of just five firms - Clifford Chance, Linklaters & Paines, Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May - together topped pounds 1bn, or nearly a third of the total fees earnings recorded in the listing. Pointing out that between May 1996 and April 1997, UK law firms worked on 4,491 transactions, worth pounds 325.1bn, the editors of Legal Business write that "M&A lawyers undoubtedly set the pace, although litigation, property and insurance lawyers were not far behind".

Senior partners at the leading firms attributed the performance to the strong economy and huge demand for their services. "Everyone's been working an incredible number of hours," said one.

However, despite the general improvement in billings, the league table shows a mixed picture. Some larger firms are investing so much in information technology and overseas offices that partners may take home no more money than those in the middle market.

Indeed, the apparent success of middle-market firms, such as Nabarro Nathanson, Watson, Farley & Williams and Rowe & Maw, which all achieved revenue increases of more than 10 per cent, is one of the surprises of the listing, since it had been widely predicted that practices like these were vulnerable to the arrival in London of powerful regional firms, US organisations and the increasing presence of big accountancy firms, particularly Arthur Andersen.

For the moment, the policy of Slaughter and May - described as home of "the richest lawyers in the City by far" - of concentrating on being a pre-eminent UK corporate adviser seems to be paying off. It achieved by far the highest average profit per partner, pounds 566,000, though it is said that some of its senior people earn as much as pounds 700,000.

Allen & Overy saw turnover rise 21 per cent, to pounds 167m, while profits per partner were second only to Slaughter and May's, at pounds 540,000.

On the other hand, Clifford Chance, the City's biggest firm with revenues of pounds 310m, found itself exposed to a common problem: the strong pound.

Legal Business emphasises that its figures, based on well-informed estimates, are not necessarily the same as take-home pay.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project