30 Jul 2021

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer posts ‘strong’ results with revenue and PEP both up by 5%

PEP growth more sluggish than rivals Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance, bringing all three firms broadly into line

Photo of Rick van Aerssen in an office

Rick van Aerssen

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has unveiled what it has dubbed a ‘strong’ set of financial results with revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP) both increasing by 5%.

The growth increases revenue to £1.59bn and PEP to £1.91m, putting the firm's performance broadly in line with the two magic circle rivals which have already posted their results.

Allen & Overy (A&O) achieved the same 5% income growth while at Clifford Chance (CC) – the largest of the trio by revenue – it edged up by 1%. Both rivals, however, secured steeper PEP rises, with A&O’s jumping by 17% and CC’s climbing by 9%. The end result, however, is three firms with similar levels of PEP.

Freshfields Managing Partner Rick van Aerssen said: “This strong set of results reflects Freshfields’ continued success in our core markets, as well as our expansion in growth markets such as the U.S. The ability of our global platform to deliver for clients as a destination practice across all the key disciplines is a formula that works, shown by revenue growth across all our regions and practice areas against the backdrop of the pandemic.”

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The results mean Freshfields is among a host of top firms on both sides of the Atlantic whose financial performance accelerated during the pandemic. Last year it recorded 3% revenue growth with PEP marginally down.

Its undoubted strategic highlight during its financial year ending on 30 April was its opening of a Silicon Valley office last summer in the teeth of the Covid-19 pandemic after hiring partners from the Davis Polk, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin and Wilson Sonsini.

Such high-profile profile partner raids are usually meted out in London by US firms against the leading UK firms, and Freshfields did indeed experience some losses, notably that of global M&A client group co-head Bruce Embley to Skadden last September.

The firm also made notable strides on the diversity and inclusion front, becoming the first Magic Circle firm to appoint a woman – Georgia Dawson – as senior partner. In April, it easily surpassed its newly set gender diversity target in its partner promotion round with women making up half of the 22-strong tally. That was a marked improvement on 2020 when just four women made the grade, 19% of the cohort of 21.

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