Law firm breaks $2.5 billion revenue: The first to do it since GFC

by Sophie Schroder15 Aug 2014
Global firm Baker & McKenzie has taken over from DLA Piper as the world’s largest firm, announcing record global revenues of $2.54 billion.

It is the first firm since the GFC to break the $2.5 billion revenue barrier.

Baker & McKenzie is now considered the largest firm in the world by revenues, markets and headcount, and profits per equity partner increased by a smashing 7% to $1.29 million.

Total revenues saw a 5% increase.

Although Baker & McKenzie doesn’t have an office here in New Zealand, Australian national managing partner Chris Freeland told NZ Lawyer that the practice in our nearest neighbours played a significant part in the global success of the firm.

“Most of our growth is organic growth, so it’s been from existing people and clients,” he says. “The Australian office was a significant contributor.”

Baker & McKenzie in Australia outperformed the market against almost every measure, he says, reporting solid revenue growth, increased profits per partner, and acting on many of the largest transactions of the year.

“We were right towards the top of the league tables, and on top of it all we’ve just announced the opening of our Brisbane office, which we think is a very significant step in terms of the Australian [Bakers] offices,” Freeland says.

The office was the first new opening for the firm in Australia in 32 years, and aims to take advantage of Brisbane’s fast-growing energy and resources sector.

But Freeland says at this stage the international firm which has 76 offices around the globe has no plans to open up shop in New Zealand – at least for now.

“Our focus is on the Brisbane office,” he says. “[However] I was at a dinner last week with your Deputy Prime Minister and I was very impressed. New Zealand is an economy where a lot of things are going right.”

But it’s also still a relatively small market Freeland says, and outside of Australia emerging markets like Myanmar are providing bigger business opportunities.

Earlier this year, Baker & McKenzie opened an office up there.

“If you think of the significant projects going on in Myanmar with 60 million people, it’s massive,” he says.

Globally for FY14, Baker & McKenzie hired 56 lateral partners, and promoted a further 65 new partners.

The firm was ranked number one in the world by number of cross-border deals for the fifth year in a row by Thomson Reuters, and standout practices included banking & finance, tax and dispute resolution, M&A, IP and trade & commerce.

It also now has more firm and lawyer rankings in Chambers Global than any other law firm.