Stephenson Harwood is set to face its most challenging year yet after the firm admitted average profits per partner have plummeted by 25 per cent during the last financial year
The freefall in partner income - £210,000 in 2002 from 2001's £280,000 - has been blamed on a slowdown in corporate and the pressure to keep up with market rates of pay for fee-earners, which the firm estimates has increased by 40 per cent over the past two years. Senior equity partners took most of the pain as those at the top of lockstep took home £250,000 as opposed to £400,000 last year. Partners at the bottom of equity saw pay remain relatively constant at £160,000, compared with last year's £173,000. Turnover dropped marginally to £54.3m from £55m in the financial year to 2001. The figures arrive at a critical time for the firm. It finalised its merger with Sinclair Roche & Temperley in May and expects to undergo an intense period of integration over the next financial year, which could potentially have an impact on short-term profits. However, the firm expects to make some cost savings by consolidating its property, as Sinclair Roche plans to vacate its Royex House premises and move to Stephenson Harwood's office at One St Paul's Churchyard.