UK Top 200 position: 30
Olswang’s 17 per cent rise in turnover was one of the stand-out performances of the 2011–12 financial year. Turnover at the firm rose from £92.6m to £108.1m. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) was also up significantly, hitting £530,000 — a 22 per cent increase.
Olswang’s chief executive officer David Stewart said that, while it had been a challenging year for the UK legal market, the firm’s recent international expansion and sector focus had been drivers behind the strong financial results. In particular, added Stewart, the firm had seen an increase in instructions from new and existing TMT and real-estate clients, with litigation and corporate the stand-out areas.
Highlight corporate matters for Olswang last year included advising BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, on its £115m disposal; the £293m sale of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine; and NVIDIA’s $367m (£233m) acquisition of Icera. On the contentious side, Olswang’s work for News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee, where it helped draw up a code of practice in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and subsequently advised on wider issues relating to the investigation, stands out.
In February 2012, Olswang opened an office in Singapore, a region where clients include Tune Hotels, euNetworks, Visa, Tata, PayPal and Microsoft. During the year, it also added a number of lawyers to its growing overseas office network, which now includes Munich and Madrid, while the revenue figure was boosted by a full year of operations in the firm’s Paris office.
Last year, Olswang overhauled its partner remuneration system and equity structure, introducing a new model that abolished the previous distinction between fixed-share and full-equity partners. Previously, Olswang had A and B partners, the latter remunerated by a fixed share of profits plus a bonus. Now all partners are assessed on a balanced scorecard based on a range of increasingly tough criteria covering four quadrants: client contribution, internal contribution, external contribution and performance. For the purposes of reporting PEP, Olswang treats only the top three bands as full-equity partners.
Last year, the top band of Olswang’s partnership structure was worth £900,000, but no partners were actually in the top level. Consequently, the equity spread last year ranged from £410,000 to £720,000. The bottom rung was a significant 64 per cent increase on the equivalent figure the previous year.
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Overview90 High Holborn
Turnover (£m): 108.1
PEP (£k): 530
EPP (£k): 384
Total lawyers: 322
Total partners: 104