Matthew Layton, managing partner, Clifford Chance (Photo: Rosie Hallam)

Clifford Chance has posted a double-digit hike in profit per equity partner (PEP) on the back of what the firm described as a “positive” 2017-18, in which revenue climbed 5 percent.

Global revenue increased to £1.62 billion ($2.14 billion), up from £1.54 billion ($2.03 billion) in 2016-17, against a 16 percent rise in PEP to £1.6 million ($2.11 million) and a 13 percent increase in partnership profit to £626 million ($825.2 million).

The results mean that since introducing the firm’s new strategy in 2015, Clifford Chance’s global revenues have grown by 20 percent, with PEP leaping by 43 percent.

The firm credited its performance in the Americas and its cross-practice tech group as some of the drivers for its revenue growth, with profits being driven up by greater efficiency and a focus on higher value work. Equity partners numbers were slightly down on the previous year, standing at 393.

“Every practice area grew last year and every region grew both in terms of revenue and profit,” said managing partner Matthew Layton. “The momentum behind the business across all of the regions is really, really positive and it’s great to see the level of collaboration across the firm.

“Our focus isn’t on top-line growth, ours is on quality and the profitability that lets us make investments in technology and people.”

Layton highlighted the U.S. practice as a strong performer, with annual revenue climbing 6 percent to a total of £214 million ($282.1 million), or 13 percent of turnover. Over the last three years, the U.S. has been the joint biggest climber alongside the Asia-Pacific, with turnover growing by 37 percent over the period.

Elsewhere, continental European revenue climbed 6 percent to contribute 33 percent of firmwide turnover, with revenue in the Middle East growing by 12 percent and in the U.K. by 5 percent. The U.K. also accounts for 33 percent of firmwide revenue, with the Asia-Pacific on 17 percent and the Middle East on 3 percent.

Layton also highlighted Clifford Chance’s “best delivery and innovation” strategy as a driver for growth, saying it was helping its lawyers provide a service that is more robust, efficient and innovative.

As part of this strategy, the firm has launched two new units—Clifford Chance Applied Solutions and Clifford Chance Create, which will operate under a new best delivery and innovation leadership group chaired by Layton.

Clifford Chance’s head of innovation and business change, Bas Boris Visser, will chair both CC Applied Solutions, which will house new digital products, and CC Create, which brings together new innovation initiatives, including collaboration with clients and universities.

Clifford Chance acquired Newcastle low-cost legal services center Carillion Advice Service (CAS) in February as part of its best delivery strategy following the high-profile collapse of its parent company.

London managing partner Michael Bates told Legal Week last month that CAS was already carrying out Brexit-related work for clients, rewriting derivatives contracts for financial institution clients and working on due diligence matters. The firm has also made the most of recent GDPR changes, completing lots of work in the data, antitrust and M&A areas.

Looking ahead to next year, Layton said: “I would expect to see the top firms continuing to see some growth; in the absence of a major shock in the market, global cross-border M&A will continue, with the regulatory space also driving growth.

“Internally you’ll see the continuing push for efficiencies. I don’t think you’ll see firms driving revenue for revenue’s sake. Clients are very focused on value—they’ve got a lot of choice so we have to deliver a compelling value proposition. They need to see the value you’re bringing.”