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Bakers Win . . For Now. Overtaking DLA in Big Firm Stakes

 

Baker & McKenzie has overtaken DLA Piper to become the biggest law firm in the world by revenue, surpassing the $2.5bn barrier for the first time.

Bakers, which has a June 30 financial year-end, said revenues had risen 5 per cent to $2.54bn, while its equity partners took home $1.29m on average after profits per equity partner – a key metric of a law firm’s financial health known as PEP – rose 7 per cent over the past 12 months, the Financial Times report.

DLA Piper, which like most US-headquartered firms follows a calendar financial year, said this year its revenues for 2013 stood at $2.48bn and average PEP was $1.33m. It was hitherto the biggest firm in the world by revenue.

Bakers, which started in Chicago in 1949 and today has 4,245 lawyers in 76 offices around the world, said the past 12 months had been particularly strong for its banking and finance team, and its litigators and tax experts.

Like other large international law firms, Bakers is feeling the benefits of an uptick in mergers and acquisitions. The financial crisis had dried up the lucrative pipeline of advisory work on M&A and banking deals on which firms relied.

During the period Bakers advised Citic Metal, part of the Chinese consortium that bought Las Bambas copper project in Peru from Glencore for $5.85bn.

It also advised Deloitte and lenders on the $1.1bn receivership of London’s ‘Gherkin’ tower.

Bakers – whose alumni include Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund – is known for its international footprint. It opened offices in markets including Myanmar in the last year.

“We have been passionately global since our founding 65 years ago, and that is reflected in our continued expansion into new markets,” said Eduardo Leite, chairman.

While Bakers will be pleased that its PEP is well above the $1m mark again – during the financial crisis it dipped to $992,000 – its equity ranks have thinned. It has 705 equity partners, down from 719 last year.

Other top-five global firms have higher PEPs – a statistic that is closely monitored by both a firm’s own lawyers and its rivals and recruiters – with Latham & Watkins’ equity partners on average taking home $2.49m a year, and the figure at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom standing at $2.73m.

From the Financial Times

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