Magic Circle (law)

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For other uses, see Magic Circle (disambiguation).

The Magic Circle is an informal term for what are generally considered the five leading law firms headquartered in the United Kingdom,[1][2][3] and the four or five leading London-based commercial barristers' chambers.

Law firms[edit]

The five law firms generally regarded as constituting the Magic Circle are:[2][4]

These firms are generally regarded as the most prestigious law firms headquartered in the UK, and consistently have the highest earnings per-partner and earnings per-lawyer among UK-headquartered law firms.

In 2010 four members of the Magic Circle were among the ten largest law firms in the world measured by revenues, with Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy respectively the third-largest, fourth-largest, sixth-largest and seventh-largest by this measurement.[5] In 2010 Slaughter and May was the 48th-largest law firm in the world by this measure, with revenues of $628,500,000.[5]

10 largest law firms in the world measured by 2012 revenues
Rank Firm Revenues Location of headquarters
1 Baker & McKenzie $2,104,000,000 United States
2 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom $2,100,000,000 United States
3 Clifford Chance $1,874,500,000 United Kingdom
4 Linklaters $1,852,500,000 United Kingdom
5 Latham & Watkins $1,821,000,000 United States
6 Allen & Overy $1,644,500,000 United Kingdom
7 Kirkland & Ellis $1,428,000,000 United States
8 Sidley Austin $1,357,000,000 United States
9 White & Case $1,307,000,000 United States
10 Davis Polk & Wardwell $846,000,000 United States

Those UK-headquartered firms commonly regarded as the main competitors of the Magic Circle are sometime called the "Silver Circle".[6][7]

Barristers' chambers[edit]

The following barristers' chambers are often described as constituting the Bar's Magic Circle:[8]


See also[edit]

  • Big Five, referring to the five largest South African law firms.
  • Seven Sisters, referring to the seven Canadian law firms considered to be the top tier.
  • Big Six, referring to six Australian law firms perceived to be of the top tier.
  • Silver Circle, referring to other elite English law firms considered to be outside the Magic Circle.
  • White shoe firms or Charmed Circle, referring to law firms perceived to be the leading New York City law firms.


  • Big Four, the four largest accountancy and professional services firms in the world.


  1. ^ 'Different types of law firm'
  2. ^ a b "Clifford Chance Is Top U.K. Law Firm as Revenue Falls". Bloomberg Businessweek. 8 July 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "It's a kind of magic". The Law Gazette. 21 May 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  4. ^ LawBritannia Legal Glossary: Online UK Law Careers Counselling
  5. ^ a b "The Global 100: Most Revenue 2010". American Lawyer. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Silver Circle". The Lawyer. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "'Silver circle' firms upset the legal order". The Times. 28 August 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Set for a fight - 26 June 2000
  9. ^ Dowell, Katy (2011). "The Bar". The Lawyer (London: Centaur Media). Retrieved 29 October 2011.