Slaughters' profits bonanza

Slaughter and May's top equity partners are nudging £1m each in profits for the first time ever this year, research by The Lawyer has revealed.

And in a record-breaking year for mergers and acquisitions, of the 50 largest firms 33 managed more than a 10 per cent increase in revenue with 11 raking in more than a 20 per cent increase, according to The Lawyer's profits and fee income table.

Slaughter and May, with its concentration on top value M&A work, benefited most from the boom recording its largest ever profits. Average profits per partner are thought to be between £700,000 to £750,000. Partners at the top of the 10-year equity platform will receive £950,000 and those at the bottom a mere £475,000.

Slaughters refused to confirm the figures but the firm has long been the most profitable of the City practices.

Not only has it pulled back from the overseas investment favoured by its main rivals, it has long kept its equity within a select band of 100 or so partners. It makes up only two or three every year compared to the dozens made up by City rivals, and expects them to resign when they reach 50.

However, the £950,000 will not be the amount actually available for distribution. Top equity partners will probably have to contribute £250,000 of this as their capital contributions – to be returned to them on retirement.

It was not just Slaughters that broke records in the last financial year, our figures reveal. Allen & Overy also had a record-breaking year for fee income and profitability. Clifford Chance is finally seeing profits flood in from its massive overseas investments and Linklaters and Freshfields have also made big surges.

But the picture was not all bright, particularly for many medium-sized firms and those with large concentrations on insurance and shipping work.

See pages 5,6, 12 and 13