Asian growth lifts Clifford Chance profit

Elizabeth Fournier
PROFITS per equity partner at magic circle law firm Clifford Chance passed the £1m mark last year for the first time since 2008, as revenues climbed two per cent to £1.2bn.

Despite cost savings of just one per cent across the firm, favourable ratios mean profit growth outstripped the modest rise in revenue, jumping 10 per cent to £381m from £347m last year.

Managing partner David Childs told City A.M. that despite the firm managing to come through the last 12 months without redundancies, most of the cost saving had come through reduced headcount, with “very careful consideration” given to replacing departing members of staff and creating new roles.

Childs also said the firm was operating in a “two-stage world”, with growth of 16 per cent and 17 per cent in Asia and the Middle East respectively overshadowing more modest figures in the rest of the world.

Revenues in the firm’s US operations, which contribute 12 per cent of overall turnover, were flat on last year, while UK growth was one per cent.

The firm’s increasing focus on emerging markets was backed up during its partner round in May this year, where 12 of the 23 promotions were in Asia, with 10 based in Greater China.

Childs says the firm is also looking to increase headcount in its Sao Paolo office, where it practices international law for local clients, as Brazil still has a ban on non-domestic law firms practising local law.

Closer to home, Child’s is “cautiously optimistic” about growth in London, expecting a moderate increase in revenues over the next year, with partners at its Upper Bank Street offices particularly busy with the firm’s financial services, regulatory and litigation work.

Rival City firm Linklaters will also announce its financial results later this week, with figures due out on Friday.