Linklaters grows revenue by 6.6% to £1.9bn as profits edge down

Inflation and geopolitical uncertainty cited as pre-tax profit falls by 2%

Linklaters has become the latest top UK law firm to increase revenue but suffer a dip in profits citing high inflation and geopolitical uncertainty.

Revenue at the UK Magic Circle firm increased by 6.6% to £1.9bn, meaning that unlike arch-rivals Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, it is yet to break through the £2bn turnover barrier (see table).

PEP, on the other hand, was down by 4.8% to £1.779m while pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional items, of £854m represented a 2% decrease from £872m in FY2022.

Managing partner Paul Lewis said: “We’re pleased to have delivered a strong financial performance, despite a challenging high-inflation environment and ongoing geopolitical instability. Our continued revenue growth reflects that in difficult conditions the world’s leading corporates, banks and financial sponsors look to us for the quality of advice we bring to their most strategically important matters.”

The firm pointed to “significant growth in revenue from high-end M&A” including advising HSBC on the CA$13.5bn sale of its banking business in Canada to Royal Bank of Canada.

It also highlighted its investment in energy transition capability in the US, which included the hire of Ron I. Erlichman from Sidley Austin in New York last November to lead its regional energy and infrastructure projects team. Seven of its largest energy matters during the financial period related to energy transition investment. 

The UK Magic Circle 2023 Performance*Rev (£m)% ChangePEP (£k)% Change
Allen & Overy2,1007%1,820k(6.7%)
Clifford Chance2,0606%2,000k(2.0%)

*Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is yet to report; Slaughter and May does not report its financial results

The firm said it was continuing to invest in technology, revealing that its lawyers have access to a custom-built generative AI chatbot, “enabling them to use variations of ChatGPT in a safe and secure environment”.

It added that its document automation and contract management platform CreateIQ grew at a rate of nearly 100% during FY2023, attracting more than 300 institutions. 

Lewis was upbeat about the firm’s prospects in 2023/4. He said: “Entering the new financial year we have seen a strong deal flow, particularly across energy and infrastructure, high-end M&A and from financial sponsors, notwithstanding the wider slowing of the global M&A market. The challenging economic environment has led to an increase in restructuring and insolvency matters and we have also seen an uptick in regulatory and criminal investigations as well as a rise in class actions, particularly in the tech sector.”

In terms of corporate responsibility, the firm highlighted the fact that its election of 41 new partners met its 40% global gender diversity target for female partner promotions and its 15% target for under-represented minority ethnic partners in the UK and US.

It also pointed to the launch of its solicitor apprenticeship programme, which will see the first eight solicitor apprentices joining the firm in September.

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