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The biggest law firms in the UK

The UK is home to some of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the world and, for many aspiring lawyers, these organisations represent the best the industry has to offer. Below we look at some of the biggest law firms in the UK, explore their success and why one of them could be the perfect place for you to practice law.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 3 July 2024.

Law is a thriving sector. In December 2023 TheCityUK published a report on UK based legal services and said the legal sector generated over £43 billion in 2022/23, and over £33 billion of that revenue was generated by the top 100 law firms in the UK. These figures show a 5.6% increase from the previous year – an encouraging sign if you’re looking to become a lawyer.

But who are the biggest firms in the UK? How is it calculated? This is where things start to get a little more complicated. In the legal world, making the most money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the most prestigious. Profit per Equity Partner (PEP) – the process of dividing profits equally between the number of equity partners in the firm – is often a more accurate indicator of stature. Below we look at some of the firms who rank highest for both annual profit and PEP.

Allen and Overy / AO Shearman

A member of the Magic Circle (an informal term for the most prestigious firms with headquarters in the UK), Allen and Overy became A&O Shearman in 2024 by merging with Shearman & Sterling. They have over 4000 lawyers across the globe, with offices in London and Belfast, and are experts in financial law and mergers and acquisitions among other legal practice areas.


Ashurst is a multinational law firm known for their expertise in legal areas such as banking, sports, government and infrastructure. With over 200 years of experience, they have grown to have over 30 offices across the world and employ over 3500 people. They offered us some advice on what skills they look for in training contract applicants.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance, another firm often listed in the Magic Circle, has offices in over 20 countries and offers a range of legal services in corporate law, finance, litigation, and property. They have an office in both London and opened a second in Newcastle in 2018 and regularly have opportunities for graduates and apprentices.


CMS is a global law firm known for specialising in legal areas such as energy, technology, and healthcare. The firm has over 80 offices in 45 countries, with nine offices across the UK. They regularly offer opportunities for law graduates and undergraduates and they offered advice for our students on what they look for in their future employees.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper is not only one of the biggest law firms in the UK, but also the world, with bases in over 40 countries. They have seven offices in the UK alone, located in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield, and offer a range of legal services, often specialising in areas such as corporate law, litigation and regulation.

Eversheds Sutherland

With 11 offices across the UK, Eversheds Sutherland is a global law firm with over 70 offices in 35 countries and serves an extensive range of international clients. They regularly have openings for student and graduate applications and offer both training contracts and vacation schemes.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Another firm listed in the Magic Circle, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has over 270 years’ experience and is well regarded for its work in corporate law and dispute resolution, providing services to some of the biggest companies in the world. They also offer a range of early legal career opportunities.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills, known for its expertise in disputes, corporate law, and finance, has offices in both London and Belfast. It was founded in 2012 in a merger between Herbert Smith, a Silver Circle firm, and Freehills in Australia and have access to many international opportunities.

Hogan Lovells

With a strong presence in both the UK and USA, Hogan Lovells is well known for its work in media and intellectual property, with their IP, Media, and Technology team advising over 50% of the worlds top 100 brands. Thery also practice in a number of other legal areas including education, aerospace and defence.


Linklaters is a global law firm with 31 offices in 21 countries and another member of the Magic Circle. Their work covers a number of legal areas including corporate finance and investment, and they have been involved with a number of high profile business transactions in recent years.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global law firm working with financial institutions and corporations. They have offices in over 50 cities around the world and employ over 3000 lawyers, offering the opportunity to learn and practice law across the globe.

How to choose a law firm

Choosing a law firm to apply to is ultimately a personal choice. However, there are some practical considerations which could help your research. Use each firm’s website to research the work they do. Explore their goals, strategies and work culture. Do they work in a practice area which interests you? Does the company ethos align with your own? Research their recruitment strategies and explore what kind of training they offer. What kind of pro bono work do they do? What opportunities do staff have access to? Where could your career lead? You’ll find the right firm for you no matter which direction you want your career to go.


Find more advice and guidance from some of the top recruiters in the UK and strengthen your application today.