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7 February 2014
Eversheds revealed its figures last week to a general yawn of non-excitement. Revenue was up a miserable 2 per cent, while profit per equity (PEP) partner rose 6 per cent to £350,000. That meagre 6 per cent rise comes despite the firm shrinking its equity partnership by 5 per cent.
While a monolithic national firm such as Eversheds can hardly be expected to keep up with City trailblazers such as Berwin Leighton Paisner, just two years ago Eversheds’ PEP was higher than BLP’s, which now stands at £570,000.
The ambition of Nigel Knowles and his cohorts at DLA Piper has also long since left Eversheds trailing, but what should be worrying Eversheds is the rise of its direct national competitors. Addleshaw Goddard saw PEP rise to £404,000 last year and even unfashionable Shoosmiths’ PEP is up to £333,000.
Some Eversheds partners scoffed when their colleague Simon Boss left for Shoosmiths earlier this year, but soon he could be earning more than them. Eversheds will need more than TLC to stop some of his colleagues following him out the door.
East, West, North is best
Taking a risk management approach to the legal function has become pretty trendy of late, particularly in the financial services sector. But if you think this means budget supermarket chain Morrisons will be examining its legal function in the wake of last week’s accounting revelations, think again.
Morrisons now has no in-house legal function and a Morrisons spokesperson said last week that the supermarket chain had no immediate plans to gain legal capability. What in-house capability Safeway had was lost in March 2004 following the takeover, when Safeway’s head of legal David Wilson and his deputy Gerald Ellis left the group.
The vast majority of the retailer’s legal work is farmed out to longstanding adviser Gordons, the 39-partner Bradford firm. Gordons is leading for Safeway on the supermarket chain’s possible selloff, with Ashurst advising on discrete competition issues and some advice on listing rules. However, the idea that Ashurst might muscle in on Morrisons while the retailer is vulnerable is as remote as ever. One source said: “Morrisons would instruct a City firm, sure. Provided that City was in Yorkshire.”
OFT has shirt off the back of price-fixing all:sports
The Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) last week handed down its findings in the seemingly never-ending football shirts price-fixing case. Umbro, Manchester United, JJB Sports and all:sports appealed against the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) decision, and all bar all:sports saw their fines reduced.
The CAT acknowledged Man Utd’s repentance and said for the first time it would give credit to companies that recompense consumers affected by their competition breaches. JJB was found to have played an even greater role in the price-fixing than the OFT believed, but ultimately had its fine reduced. But for all:sports it was only on appeal that an incriminating diary, complete with blacked-out entries of price-fixing meetings, emerged. All:sports and its lawyers Addleshaw Goddard must be ruing the day they decided to appeal the matter.