Morning Briefing: Firm revenues on the rise; Bingham office shrinks to one partner

by NZ Lawyer30 Sep 2014
US big law increases revenue by 4.3 per cent… Bingham Hong Kong down to one partner… Asian commercial court threatens London dominance…Freshfields focuses on international reputation…Debevoise & Plimpton to operate as a local firm in Hong Kong…

US big law increases revenue by 4.3 per cent
Last year saw a rise of 4.3% in the revenue of the 100 largest law firms in the US. The total revenue was US$88.7 billion and much of the growth is attributed to the mergers and acquisitions which have been a regular occurrence since the financial downturn. The latest figures show that there are now almost twice as many firms with revenue of US$1 billion or more than there were 5 years ago. Last year’s highest earner was Baker McKenzie with revenue of more than US$2.5 billion.

Bingham Hong Kong down to a single partner
Not so long ago Bingham McCutchen in Hong Kong was a six-partner office with lawyers qualified in many jurisdictions. Now it is down to just one partner following the hiring of two more partners by Akin Gump. The US firm has hired 28 partners from Bingham recently, five of them from Hong Kong. Capital markets specialist Vincent Sum is the remaining partner at McCutchen’s Hong Kong office.

Asian court threatens London dominance
The dominance of London’s globally respected commercial court is being threatened by the fast-growing International Arbitration Centre in Singapore. The number of cases at the Asian court has increased threefold in the last ten years and with a new mediation centre and court due to open within the next few months the trend is set to continue.

Freshfields wants to move away from ‘magic circle’ tag
Freshfields is increasing its US presence and wants to move away from its position as one of the ‘magic circle’ and be seen as an elite international firm. The firm is keen to build a reputation as a regulatory adviser and is focused on Wall Street but with a focus on international cases.

Debevoise & Plimpton to operate as a local firm in Hong Kong
A strong team at the Hong Kong office of Debevoise & Plimpton will soon become a local law firm able to deal with domestic cases as well as international ones. The firm has been building up the team in recent months at a time when competition in the region from international firms has increased. Becoming a local law firm will allow Debevoise & Plimpton to widen its service offer while maintaining its international client base.