The last nine days have been what you might call a busy period for news. This is true even in the legal sector, where we unveiled the latest U.K. Top 50 law firm rankings.
The latest iteration of Law.com International’s long-running U.K. rankings—again brought to you ahead of any others—found the U.K.’s largest law firms managed their strongest average revenue rise since before the financial crisis: a pretty incredible feat given the uncertainty of the past 18 months.
Hannah Walker spoke to several of the U.K.’s forefront legal leaders, including management at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Eversheds Sutherland, for their take on the numbers.
The buoyant M&A market was heralded as one of the main drivers behind the growth. But despite the strong revenue increase, partner profit growth across the group slowed amid inflated costs and an increased number of equity partners.
The average change in PEP across the firms failed to match the growth in the previous year, when it increased 18.7% in one of the largest ever rises. The average PEP across the firms now stands at £939,600.
Most senior figures within law firms now look with trepidation towards the coming year: facing down a likely recession and feeling the impact of a long-running pay war, many will now be preparing to take a firm hold of what comes next.
Eversheds Sutherland CEO Lee Ranson had some sage advice: “We shouldn’t kid ourselves that we’re not in quite choppy waters. As always when it’s like that, firms that are prepared to seize the opportunities that come from that will do well. Those firms that hunker down may find the market very hard indeed.” This year an updated methodology opened up the table, with firms such as Birketts, Burness Paull and Keystone Law featuring on the list for the very first time. Now, for a firm to rank in the table it needs to have most of its lawyers in the U.K. than any other jurisdiction. Editor-in-Chief Paul Hodkinson explains our reasoning here.
For the likes of DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and some others that no longer feature in the U.K. Top 50 ranking, fear not. All firms will feature in the AmLaw 100 and the Global 200 rankings.
Our Global 200 rankings, an in-depth look at those firms that have truly earned the moniker ‘international’ in recent years, will be released next week. We have reams of data and analysis for you to dive into, and make a note of September 21, when you can join myself and other Law.com International editors and correspondents for a webinar exploring the key market trends.
Have you been online at all in the past couple of months? If so, you won’t have been able to miss the so-called “quiet quitting” revolution currently taking hold of some workplaces.
The concept refers to an employee ‘quietly’ disengaging from their job: to perform little more than the bare minimum. In a hybrid workplace without a manager breathing down your neck a lot of the time, the idea seems to have caught on. A recent Gallup survey found that half of Americans already say they are ‘quiet quitting’ their job.
But can the concept be applied to law, famous for its driven culture and long hours? Habiba Cullen-Jafar decided to find out. Many people she spoke to shied away from the concept or flat out condemned it. One associate at an elite U.K. firm said even talking about the concept “would be seen as really bad,” while a barrister had harsh words for anyone considering it: “quiet quitting is the workplace equivalent of cheating on your partner”. “It’s weak. If you don’t want to be there, have the strength of your convictions—quit properly and find something else,” they added.
But others pointed out that more senior lawyers who may dismiss the idea of quiet quitting may need to think about it differently.
Leah Steele, a burnout trainer and former lawyer, said that the generational divide is important to understanding the concept.
“There is a tendency for older generations to say ‘it wasn’t like that in my day’. But in reality the world of work has changed and the law hasn’t caught up effectively. There is a far greater volume of work than there was in the 70s and 80s. We’ve gone from using post to faxes to emails to clients literally being able to text you whenever.”
Like with most things, balanced debate is always useful. The more traditionally raised generation may balk at the concept of not putting in 110% at work – but during a cost of living crisis, depressing housing market and the spectre of burnout constantly looming, can anyone really blame juniors for taking the foot off the gas a little bit?
Thoughts welcome at [email protected]