Freshfields’ top earner took home £2.9m, accounts show

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer paid out £2.9m to a departing partner in the 2011/12 financial year, as staff costs at the firm rose more than 10 per cent.

According to the firm’s LLP accounts, filed at Companies Houses last Friday (25 January), Freshfields’ highest-paid partner in 2011/12 received £2.9m – a figure which can include payments in relation to his or her retirement from the firm.

In 2010/11 the highest-paid partner got £2.5m. Average profit per equity partner at Freshfields in 2011/12 was £1.299m, while top of equity was £1.426m, according to The Lawyer UK 200 2012.

Between 2010/11 and 2011/12, staff costs at Freshfields rose 10.2 per cent, from £480.4m to £529.6m. In a year when the firm’s turnover was effectively flat at £1.117bn, profit for the financial year was down almost 5 per cent, from £366.6m to £349m.

Staff numbers, meanwhile, rose in 2011/12. The average number of people employed by Freshfields during the financial year was 4,476, up from 4,409 in the previous year. In 2011/12 the average number of partners at the firm was 350, down from 355 the previous year.

The firm’s business review in the LLP accounts state that the firm’s performance in 2011/12 was “considered satisfactory given the volatile and uncertain market conditions experienced throughout the year”.

The LLP accounts also show a big drop in net cash. At 30 April 2011, the firm had £89m in net cash, but that figure had dropped to £35.5m at the same period in 2012, equating to a fall of 60.1 per cent.

A firm spokesman said of the drop in net cash: “Cash balances have reduced as a result of significant investment in capital assets during the year. This includes the substantial refurbishment of the London office together with investment in new technology. The firm prefers to finance such investments from its own resources and remains without borrowing at the year-end.”