The law firm Eversheds Sutherland in Great Britain became the Law firm of the year 2020:
"Only the most outstanding law firms over 2019 made the shortlist in this, our most prestigious award. Judges were looking for a firm that took the market by storm and achieved more than their direct competitors and peers. Achievements may include – but are not limited to – the successful development of new practice areas, expansion into new international or domestic markets, new client wins, the completion of a strategic merger or acquisition, improved financial performance, or a successful recruitment policy. The winner of this award is quite simply the best in the business right now."
Judges also commented the winner:
Eversheds Sutherland emerged as a clear winner. Not only was the firm successful commercially, turning in strong financials and pointing to a number of major new client wins and panel reappointments for global giants, but it has also made a difficult transatlantic merger work under strong leadership; completed a strategic masterstroke with the spin-off of its alternative legal services arm; bolstered its ranks with some prominent lateral hires; and nailed its colours to the mast with firm targets for ethnic diversity.
Eversheds was the only firm in the top ten of the LB100 to record double-digit revenue growth for 2018/19, building on its 2017 transatlantic merger with a 14% revenue uptick to £890.2m while PEP rose 8% to £886,000. The US project has been a clear success and accordingly, the firm announced new office launches in Chicago and San Diego during 2019.
However, the decision to spin-off its alternative legal services business into a separate corporate structure, called Konexo, and open that up to outside investment to rapidly scale up was bold and innovative. When Eversheds’ New Law offerings were established in 2011, an initial revenue target of £10m was set. Now at £40m, Konexo is aiming to generate £100m within the next five years and was the only firm to set out its stall so clearly.
With financial success and strategic acumen in ready supply, Eversheds’ stock has simply grown, both in terms of GCs regularly citing the firm as a go-to adviser to Legal Business but also in terms of attracting noted talent from other firms. This was obvious in 2019 with a virtually unheard of lateral hire from Slaughter and May in Hong Kong – disputes partner Mark Hughes, while the firm boosted its credentials in the upper-mid-market corporate space considerably with the hire of Giles Dennison, the former UK head of corporate at Simmons & Simmons.
The firm also took the opportunity in 2019 to hold its hand up and point to its shortcomings in terms of promoting ethnic diversity. The firm was clear on its desire to do better and has committed to clear and measurable targets. By 2025 the firm wants 10% of its UK partnership to be comprised of BAME lawyers, with the figure currently standing at just over 5%. Throughout its UK workforce, including partners, the firm wants to hit 14% BAME representation by 2022, with the figure currently sitting at just below 12%.