The Lawyer Africa Elite 2014 features an in-depth look at 46 leading independent firms’ strategies in 15 key sub-Saharan jurisdictions, as well as the views of in-house counsel from some of Africa’s largest companies... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) spent in the region of £10m on its international expansion during the 2008-09 financial year, The Lawyer can reveal, but top earners have been unaffected by the resultant drop in profitability.
BLP launched in Moscow and Abu Dhabi in January, breaking with a previous international strategy of non-exclusive networks of referral firms.
The firm spent around £200,000 on due diligence on its tie-up with around 70 lawyers from Russian practice Pepeliaev Goltsblat & Partners. BLP subsequently signed terms on 2,000sq m of space in a Moscow office complex, where it is believed to pay an annual rent of between $1.3m (£785,000) and $1.8m.
Partly as a result of these investments the firm has experienced a drop in profitability, with profit per equity partner falling by 33 per cent, from £620,000 to £414,000. The bottom of the equity has also fallen substantially, from £350,000 in 2007-08 to £185,000 this year - a fall of 47 per cent.
However, BLP, which has a policy of bringing in high-profile lateral hires on guaranteed equity packages, will continue to pay plateau partners £1m, the same sum as last year.
A BLP spokesperson said the partnership supported the remuneration structure, adding: “In a difficult market the value and contribution of those high earners is very apparent.”
But another BLP source said: “If they’re performing well and we’re making money on them [nobody will complain, but] if they’re not making money then people might be pissed off.
“We’ve continued to make aggressive hires and spend money - in a few years we’ll find out if that’s a good decision or not.”