City lawyers in elite 'magic circle' of five firms share £2.2bn pay pot


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The Independent Online

Fewer than 1,800 lawyers at the "magic circle" of elite five law firms have shared in a £2.2bn pay bonanza for the 2012-13 financial year, according to figures this morning.

Slaughter & May, Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Linklaters all saw profit per equity partner increase by between 1 per cent and 10 per cent last year. That is considered the key measure to gauge the growth of law firms and only Clifford Chance experienced a slight fall – 2 per cent – in payout to the most senior lawyers.

The survey of global law firms, produced by Legal Business, showed that despite a lack of mergers and acquisitions in recent years, corporate legal advisory remains a lucrative business. Equity partners in all the magic circle firms can expect to take home between £1m and £2m each, with lawyers at Slaughter & May particularly well off.

Despite the slight decrease in the profit share for equity partners, Clifford Chance still did best by overall turnover in the poll, coming in at number five. The firm is estimated to have brought in nearly £1.4bn of work, though it will only confirm its results on Monday.

DLA Piper, a smaller City rival that has expanded internationally, tops the poll with revenue of more than £1.6bn. However, profit per equity partner remains considerably lower than the elite at well under £1m.

Linklaters, which counts the mining giant Glencore Xstrata and telecoms empire Vodafone among its clients, publishes annual figures this morning, showing that pre-tax profit was up just 1.6 per cent to £521.9m.

Freshfields also unveiled its results this morning, unveiling a 7.2 per cent revenue hike to more than £1.2bn. Global managing partner Ted Burke said the practice was trying to "adapt to changing client demand".