Speechly Bircham posted a drop in average profits per equity partner of 21 per cent this year, despite its efforts to restructure its partnership and build capacity in a number of specialist areas. The London mid-sizer reduced its full equity partnership by four, from 28 to 24, while the total partnership grew to 45. Key hires included the private equity specialists Matthew Sillett and Kieran O'Connor, both from Osborne Clarke, property partner Anne Magill, who joined last month from collapsed US firm Altheimer & Gray, and Hammonds insolvency partner Andrew Knight. Speechlys' managing partner Michael Lingens said the firm had continued to recruit during a tough year in the key transactional areas of corporate and property. He said that the firm has also managed to avoid making any redundancies, but had released a number of under-performing partners from across the firm. Since the push into private equity, Speechlys has won work from new clients, including Montagu Private Equity and Granville Private Equity. It also acquired Abbey National as a new client with the arrival of Knight from Hammonds. "We recognise the days of the mid-size generalist firms are numbered, which is why we're investing in specialist areas," added Lingens.