What are the Magic Circle companies

Office rates: Magic Circle continues to grow in Germany

The four most important British law firms that are represented in Germany report solid results for the 2015/16 financial year that ended in May. Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters achieved between 3.4 and 7.0 percent more sales in Germany than in the previous year. Clifford Chance increased its productivity slightly while total sales fell. Nevertheless, the so-called 'Magic Circle' law firms are currently rather reluctant to hire new staff.

As in previous years, Freshfields is the law firm with the highest turnover in the German market. With 470 professionals, it had a turnover of 367 million euros. Compared to 355 million in the previous year, this is an increase of 3.4 percent. Linklaters reached 191.3 million euros, almost 4 percent more than in the previous year. Allen & Overy grew the most: 144.6 million euros mean an increase of 7 percent. Only Clifford, recently significantly reduced in staff numbers, reported a drop in sales of a good 5 percent to 178.4 million euros.

Productivity increased across the board

The quality of the mandate business can be better read from the productivity of the lawyers than from the total turnover, which is closely related to the sheer size of a law firm. If the turnover achieved is divided by the number of professionals, the balance sheet of the Magic Circle law firms looks even more positive: On average, each Freshfields lawyer earned 776,000 euros - an increase of 6 percent over the previous year and a record for the law firm.

No other Magic Circle law firm in Germany currently achieves such a high turnover per professional. Allen & Overy increased this figure by 4.5 percent to 696,000 euros. Clifford achieved an increase of 1.2 percent and is now 658,000 euros. At Linklaters too, sales per professional rose, albeit only slightly: 669,000 euros mean an increase of 0.7 percent.

Fewer new hires planned

When it comes to personnel planning, however, the Magic Circle law firms are more cautious in their calculations. In 2015 Linklaters wanted to hire a maximum of 70 new associates, in 2016 only a maximum of 60. At Clifford, the number of planned new positions fell from 50 to 40. Freshfields plans unchanged with a maximum of 85 hires, at Allen & Overy there are also unchanged 40. In the German market as a whole, however, the personnel requirements of the law firms have increased. (Norbert Parzinger)

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