Bird & Bird's profits have sunk to their lowest point since 1998, as the firm continues to sacrifice profits to fund international expansion. Preliminary figures released to The Lawyer reveal that profits per equity partner are down to £317,000, a dip of 12 per cent from last year's £360,000. Bird & Bird chief executive David Kerr said: "The partnership believes passionately in the internationalisation of the firm and that in the long run we will achieve stable, stronger profits from it." Gross fees have risen 15 per cent from £53.3m to £62.5m for the last financial year. And although revenue has more than trebled in the past five years, profits per equity partner are lower than 1998's figure of £337,000, and show a dramatic slump from 2001's high point of £402,000. During the past year, the firm has opened offices in Düsseldorf and Milan and recruited heavily in its office in The Hague, boosting lawyer numbers by almost 30 per cent to 287. Kerr said: "The last year is probably the last really big hit because we've absorbed most of the investment costs. There is a feeling that the offices are now pretty robust and moving into full contribution territory. I've always believed passionately in the need to invest in the downturn and I genuinely think we've done that rather than feeling sorry for ourselves and retrenching."