Latham & Watkins has broken the $1bn (£562.4m) revenue barrier — matching the profits of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters along the way — as London’s top law firms prepare to be eclipsed by another record-breaking year for US rivals.
The Los Angeles-based giant leads the charge of US firms preparing to announce double-digit growth for 2003, with global revenues for Lathams hitting $1.032bn (£565.8m), up by 14% from 2002’s tally of $906m (£496.7m).
In addition, average partner profits rose by 12% to reach $1.273m (£700,000), compared to $1.142m (£626,100) the previous year.
A wave of US firms are now set to unveil comparable growth for 2003.
Notably, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has confirmed its annual revenues were up 12% to hit $353m (£194.6m), with partners at Weil Gotshal & Manges and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett both predicting “record-breaking years”.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Bingham McCutchen, meanwhile, said revenues last year would outstrip their 2002 results, with Clearys expecting profits growth of at least 9% and Binghams forecasting growth as high as 15%.
Chicago giant Kirkland & Ellis is also predicting solid growth, while Shearman & Sterling forecasts a sharp increase in partner profits, although fee income managed only a modest increase.
The financial results of Manhattan’s legal elite also look set to be bolstered by a post-summer revival in deal activity, with companies such as Bank of America and Anthem launching multi-billion dollar mergers. One head of a top 20 New York firm commented: “We have been able to come through a very tough economy and grow. It was a good year.”
The results are sure to concern leading London firms, which, despite the current mitigating strength of sterling against the US dollar, look certain to lose more ground to US rivals this year.