Review of the year 2003: Linklaters’ restructuring

Linklaters’ restructuring” />It was a year peppered with partner departures and internal restructuring for Linklaters.

The story began back in September 2002, when The Lawyer revealed that Linklaters was to focus on corporate and finance work at the expense of future investment in real estate and litigation.

By March, the firm had put its money where its mouth was and, for the first time in its history, moved to
de-equitise partners.

Those partners affected came from the firm’s real estate and construction departments. While the cuts were driven partly by underperformance, they were clearly strategic. These groups were no strangers to restructuring – just two months earlier the construction department was merged with real estate and projects in a bid to refocus on high-end clients and to improve the bottom line.

The result was that, since April 2002, 24 partners have resigned or been managed out, while a number of Linklaters associates have also been given the axe.

The restructure has affected staff at all levels, including trainees. In October, The Lawyer revealed that the firm was dispensing with its three-month litigation ‘short-seat’ and instead farming trainees out to an external provider.

But for a firm in the midst of vast change, Linklaters showed some dazzlingly impressive year-end results. The Lawyer editor Catrin Griffiths was congratulatory in The Lawyer 100, writing: “Linklaters really has made a comeback.”

Never one to rest on its laurels, in October the firm announced that it was stepping up its drive to outstrip the income of magic circle rivals with plans to increase profitability by a whopping 40 per cent over the next two years. That would take top of equity to £1.25m, though, of course, there won’t be quite so many partners around to enjoy it.