11 February 2020

Brexit rebound: business confidence jumps as trio of top US law firms post strong London results

Three US firms have flagged strong growth in London on the release of 2019 financial data

There has been a strong rebound in business confidence following the ending of political deadlock over Brexit

Quinn Emanuel, King & Spalding and Dechert point to growth in London while business confidence among UK firms jumps

Three US firms have flagged strong growth in London on the release of 2019 financial data, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan recording an impressive 20% revenue increase to £100.6m.

Also reporting strong London results this week – after a year that was overshadowed by political deadlock and economic uncertainty in the UK over Brexit – are King & Spalding and Dechert.

Meanwhile, a quarterly survey of UK law firms found the proportion predicting growth in Q1 2020 jumping to 47% from 30% in the previous quarter.

Quinn Emanuel’s results see it lay claim to being the first London litigation boutique to hit revenue of £100m.

Since its launch in 2008, the top 30 US firm’s office has grown to 19 partners and 69 associates and of counsel. Profit at the office was also up – by 11% - to £62.7m, giving it a profit margin of 66.7%.

Alex Gerbi, co-managing partner of Quinn Emanuel’s London office, said: “This has been another year of fantastic growth in London revenues with all areas of our practice contributing to our success.”

Over at fellow top 30 US firm King & Spalding’s 22-partner London office, revenue jumped by 15% to $55.7m (£42.5m); putting its growth rate ahead of the firm as a whole.

Firm-wide revenue at the Atlanta-based firm increased by 6.1% to $1.34bn while profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 5.4% to $3m.

Dechert's preliminary results, meanwhile, saw an 11% rise in revenue to $1.14bn against a 10% rise in PEP to $3m; with chief executive Henry Nassau telling Law.com that London, its third-largest office, had had a "strong year", particularly for litigation.

The trio of healthy results for the London practices of US law firms comes as the latest quarterly business confidence survey published by Hitachi Capital Business Finance records a sharp increase in confidence for Q1 2020, to its highest levels for 18 months.

The survey tracks confidence among small businesses including law firms. Two in five small business leaders (39%) predict growth by 31 March – the highest level for 18 months – with the law firm figure of 47% making law among the most buoyant sectors.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “As the UK economy enters a new chapter, the latest findings from our quarterly tracking research suggest that UK small businesses are starting a new year, a new decade and a new economic era with a positive outlook. What is heartening is the diversity of this confidence, which spans regions, sectors and older businesses modernising."

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