Legal News

UK Law Firms Struggle to Compete with American Law Firms
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Hourly rate

Summary: A study from Legal Week shows that American law firms’ PEP has grown more than UK law firms’ PEP in the last five years. 

New research shows that UK law firms are lagging behind the US when it comes to increased profit per equity partner (PEP). According to, PEP is a popular way to compare the success of different markets, and some in the legal industry have expressed their surprise that the contrast between the two has been so significant.


“I would have expected that the US-based firms would be ahead, but not this significantly,” White & Case London head Oliver Brettle told “My expectation is that the US firms’ growth is linked to the very strong performance of the US economy and the strong performance of US-headquartered corporates and financial institutions, enabling US firms to follow them as they expand and invest globally. Where are the UK equivalents of Google, Apple and Facebook?”

The PEP data was released by Legal Week, which stated that the top 10 American law firms grew at a rate of 50% more than their UK rivals over the past five years. The top 10 UK firms’ PEP increased an average of 15.7% during the past five years while the top 10 US firms’ PEP increased by 24.7%.

According to, the disparity amongst the top 20 firms in both markets is also stark. It is noted that Legal Week did not count DLA Piper, Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells because those firms have big presences in the US and the UK.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

“Across this group of 20 US firms, PEP increased by an average of 25.2% between 2011-12 and 2016-17, compared with less than 12% at the equivalent largest UK firms,” stated. Nine US firms saw their PEP increase by over 30% in the past five years while only three UK firms could boast those numbers.

The nine US firms were Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, White & Case, Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Ropes & Gray and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. The three UK firms were Allen & Overy, Pinsent Masons and Slaughter and May.

With large contrasts of PEP growth among US law firms and UK law firms, law firm managers in the UK realize that they must take action to make themselves more appealing to talent.

“If commentators are correct that 48% of global legal spend is in the US and 12% is in the UK, then it stands to reason that if you do not have a strong US practice, you will find it more difficult,” Brettle added. “The findings put UK firms at a further disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent, given this is before converting these figures to dollars and making the difference look even more stark. A lot of this is about talent – investing and keeping people because you can afford to do so.”


What do you think of this latest finding? Let us know in the comments below.



Estate Planning & Administration Attorney

USA-CA-Newport Beach

Our firm is growing, and we are seeking a positive and compassionate full-time Associate Attorney wh...

Apply now

Law Firm Administrator


Sutton|Booker P.C. is a growing, boutique litigation firm in DTC seeking a well-organized, pro-activ...

Apply now

Wills, Trusts and Estates Paralegal

USA-FL-Spring Hill

Buck Law Group, P.A. is looking for a Wills, Trusts, and Estates Paralegal to join our positive and ...

Apply now



At Our Children’s Trust, we are committed to providing an environment of mutual respect where ...

Apply now




Search Now

Venture Capital Attorney

USA-CA-San Diego

San Diego office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks corporate business attorney with...

Apply Now

Real Estate Attorney

USA-CA-San Diego

San Diego office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks transactional real estate attorn...

Apply Now

Personal Injury Attorney

USA-NV-Las Vegas

Las Vegas office of our client is seeking a personal injury attorney with 4+ years of experience. Ca...

Apply Now


To Top