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Addleshaw Booth & Co's management is getting tough with its partners over a mounting backlog of billings
The firm has proposed to withhold 10 per cent of partners' monthly drawings from the start of the next financial year if more than 25 per cent of a partner's annual billings are more than 90 days old. It is intended to act as an incentive for partners to bill clients and get cash in promptly. Managing partner Mark Jones said that the firm's work in progress lock-up - the period from time recorded to cash collection - had increased by 50 per cent between May 2001 and November 2001. He said: "One way to deal with this was to devise a policy to give partners three months notice that sanctions were going to apply. My single biggest measurement of whether it's succeeded is if we don't have to apply [the sanction]." Jones said that since the announcement of the proposal to partners in January, work in progress had fallen back to where it had been in June. The firm is also considering billing clients on a monthly interim basis. Jones said: "The accountants are years ahead of lawyers in this respect. It seems to me that the challenge for national and regional firms is to follow that model which the accountants and magic circle firms already use." According to The Lawyer 100, Addleshaws turned over £75.3m in the last financial year, and posted an average profits per partner of £240,000. The firm is aiming for a 15 per cent increase in turnover this year. Jones said: "We were within 2 per cent of budget at the halfway stage."