‘The strategy delivers’: Freshfields sees 8% revenue rise but PEP growth stalls

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has announced its 2022/23 financial results, marking a seventh consecutive year of revenue growth for the firm.

Its revenue has increased by 8% to £1.84bn from £1.7bn in the previous financial year, a similar increase to last year’s 10% rise. Freshfields is the last of the four international magic circle firms to reveal its results. However, unlike Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance, Freshfields is yet to break the £2bn barrier. In its recently released financials, A&O’s revenue increased by 8% from £1.94bn to £2.1bn, while CC achieved a revenue increase of 5% from £1.969bn to £2.062bn.

Freshfields’ profit per equity partner (PEP) has remained flat with a 1% increase to £2.09m from £2.07m last year, in contrast to last year’s solid 8% growth.

The firm has made significant investments in its workforce and operational model, including embedding cloud-based software Salesforce, making 26 new lateral appointments and 30 internal partner promotions, and launching a shared business services centre in Slovakia.

Global managing partner Rick van Aerssen told Legal Business: ‘We are happy with the strategy and the strategy delivers. We will continue on with our global growth strategy.’

‘With the waters being choppier, we think macro trends typically play to a firm like ours, where we have broad offerings and are at the complex end of the market. Where it matters most, we see people increasingly turn to us,’ he added. ‘That is true in terms of products but also where international interconnections are concerned. Take the US – we want to grow our US business, but we can also offer something to our US clients that a lot of US firms can’t offer in Asia and Europe. That is a growth driver for a firm like ours.’

Key mandates from the last financial year include advising UBS Group on its acquisition of Credit Suisse Group and advising Volkswagen and its subsidiaries on its global emissions litigation. The firm was also lead counsel defending Google in the Google digital advertising antitrust litigation and advised the independent directors of Qualtrics on the $12.5bn sale of the company.

The firm also published its second diversity and inclusion annual review. Key highlights include 48% of new partners joining the global partnership being women and doubling the number of black associates at the firm over the last two years. It has also achieved their 5% LGBTQ+ global partnership target three years ahead of schedule.

In its statement, the firm was keen to highlight its US growth ambitions, noting that over the last three years it has delivered advisory services to 70% of the 1,000 largest US corporates in the US and/or globally. It also noted that it has made 14 lateral partner appointments in the US over the last year.

Although unable to give a figure for how much of the global revenue the US offices contributed, Aerssen said: ‘It’s not growth in one area at the cost of one area, we believe in growing the business as such because there are many pockets where we think we can win work.

‘At any given time, we are looking at opportunities to grow the business, we’ve made 14 lateral partner hires in the last year in the US. We’ve always been clear that that is a key pillar of our growth strategy. We want to grow more in the US and internationally, but we don’t have a target number because it’s also a question of opportunity. What this shows is that ultimately the quality of the business is driven by the quality of our lateral hires, we’ve been very fortunate with our lateral hires that we have had such a high quality come into the firm.’

However, the US is not the only Freshfields office looking to grow. ‘London is a key market and still a growth market,’ Aerssen concluded.


This article first appeared on Legal Business