White & Case's London office has emerged as the worst performing U.K. arm of a U.S. law firm in 2009 -- a year in which results varied significantly between firms.
White & Case saw London revenues plunge by just under 20 percent to $197 million (130 million pounds) during the 2009 calendar year, with profits per equity partner dropping by 11 percent to $1.32 million (872,000 pounds).
The figures mark the biggest decline of any U.S. firm yet to announce its London results, although White & Case stressed that the large drop could be largely explained by a change in the average exchange rates it uses to convert revenues from 1 pound:$1.80 in 2008 to 1 pound:$1.50 last year.
A spokesperson said: "It is important to recognize how the changes to the average exchange rate for the U.S. dollar and pound sterling between 2008 and 2009 impacts on our revenue, with nearly two thirds of the drop attributable to the change in the exchange rates."
At the other end of the scale, Latham & Watkins looks set to be one of the best performing U.S. firms in London in 2009 after hiking local revenues by 21.9 percent to 100 million pounds ($151.1 million).
Latham London office head Andrew Moyle told Legal Week: "We showed our resilience last year and I would put that down to the diversity and quality of our practices and the benefits of our global platform."
Anglo-American firm Reed Smith also grew its London income -- although by a more modest 5 percent -- taking turnover to 90.5 million pounds ($137 million) compared with 86.4 million pounds ($131 million) in 2008. Kirkland & Ellis saw a 2 percent increase in London revenues to just under $81 million (53 million pounds).
Reed Smith Europe and Middle East managing partner Roger Parker said: "The diversification of our London practice areas had a positive effect on our revenues and was able to offset the obvious decline in real estate and transactional work."
Overall, most U.S. firms saw London revenues either dip or stay static. New York firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Weil, Gotshal & Manges both saw similar drops in fee income, with Cleary seeing London revenues dip to around $85 million (56 million pounds), compared with $90 million (60 million pounds) in 2008.
Weil Gotshal dropped from $89 million (59 million pounds) to $85 million (56 million pounds). Its PEP, however, marginally increased from $3 million (1.9 million pounds) in 2008 to $3.2 million (2.1 million pounds) in 2009.
Fellow New York leader Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom saw London revenues fall by around 5 percent to $130 million (86 million pounds) in 2009, from $137 million (90 million pounds) in 2008. K&L Gates saw London revenues drop by 15 percent to 27.8 million pounds ($42 million) from 32.1 million pounds ($49 million).
Other U.S. firms to have reported a dip in U.K. revenues include Mayer Brown, which saw turnover fall by 16 percent to 93.8 million pounds ($140.8 million), and Shearman & Sterling, where income fell by 12 percent to $99.7 million (65.8 million pounds).
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