SJ Berwin to reshape partnership in response to ‘challenging market’

SJ Berwin is set to ask a proportion of its partners to leave in a restructuring aimed at streamlining the City firm.

The firm is understood to be cutting a small number of partners, with the process following similar partnership restructurings by City firms including Herbert Smith and Linklaters.

The rejig is understood to be partly focused on non-core practice areas where it is thought to consider itself overstaffed at partner level.

The firm has roughly 150 partners globally, including around 90 in London. Roughly 80 are in the equity partnership, including around 50 in the City,

An SJ Berwin spokesperson said: “As with all law firms, we actively manage the partnership. This is an ongoing process to ensure that the size and structure of the organisation best meets the needs of what continues to be a challenging market.”

The move comes after Linklaters carried out a restructuring late last year in which around 10 per cent of its partnership were affected (8 December 2011). Herbert Smith last year also went through a restructuring that involved roughly 15 de-equitisations (12 December 2011), while Allen & Overy last year returned to managing around 1 to 3 per cent of its equity partnership after two years of not doing so (28 November 2011).

SJ Berwin’s turnover was roughly static in 2011-12 compared with 2010-11, with average profit per equity partner up 1 per cent (20 June 2012).