Axe swings at Simmons & Simmons in profits drive

Simmons & Simmons London partners have been hit by a programme of de-equitisation as the firm attempts to address its profits slump.

The firm is axing up to 11, or 12 per cent, of its 94 London equity partners while introducing higher billing targets that will see partners now expected to bill 1,500 hours a year compared to a previous benchmark of 1,200 hours.

The firm has seen a steady decline in average profits per equity partner (PPP) since 2000-01 when it reached £412,000. Since then, Simmons PPP has dropped to £375,000 to the most recent financial year’s £300,000 average partner profit. Simmons will attempt to increase profits by 33.3 per cent to £400,000 by next year.

Simmons has already begun the cull and targeted partners are still negotiating with management whether they will be de-equitised or leave the firm completely.

Also in an attempt to retain its top partners, the partnership voted earlier this year to introduce a floor in partner compensation, allocating an additional 10 per cent of profits to the bonus pool in bad years

Normally, 80 per cent is paid out on a modified lockstep with the remainder allocated to a profits pool. Now if profits fall 20 per cent below budget, 30 per cent will go to the profits pool with 70 per cent based on modified lockstep.