US legal powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis has retained its title as the world’s wealthiest law firm after its revenue jumped 18 per cent to $3.76bn (£2.87bn) in 2018.
The firm, which has expanded rapidly in London in recent years, also boosted profit per equity partner (Pep) seven per cent to $5.03m, the first time it has broken the $5m barrier.
The Chicago-headquartered firm has grown at a blistering pace since the recession, outstripping the elite Wall Street firms that traditionally dominated the upper echelons of US law.
Its focus on acting for financial sponsor clients, such as private equity powerhouses Bain, Apollo and BC Partners, has allowed it to win repeat mandates on major deals in recent years as record amounts of capital is raised and deployed.
Its London revenue is understood to have jumped to $380m, from $300m the year previously as the firm continues its aggressive push into the City legal market.
Last year, Kirkland hired buyout star Adrian Maguire from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, following in the footsteps of fellow Freshfields private equity heavyweight David Higgins who joined the firm earlier in the year.
The firm has used its financial muscle to lure star partners away from the Magic Circle firms in London which are unable to compete financially with Kirkland and other big-spending US peers such as Latham & Watkins and Weil Gotshal & Manges.
Kirkland's revenue growth keeps it ahead of rival Latham which has also expanded rapidly since the recession and has made a similarly dynamic impact in London.
Latham’s revenue grew 10.5 per cent in 2018 to $3.39bn with Pep rising 6.3 per cent to $3.45m.
Kirkland declined to comment.