Top 100 guard profits by tightening equities

Top 100 guard profits by tightening equitiesThe UK’s top law firms are keeping a tighter grip on their profits than ever before, with the total ­number of equity partners at the top 100 firms dropping this year despite a rise in overall ­partner numbers.

According to The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2008, there were 6,588 ­equity partners in the UK’s top 100 firms at the end of the 2007-08 financial year, compared ;with ;6,648 at the previous year-end.

The total number of partners has ;risen ;from ;11,381 to 11,387.

Across the top 100 firms 57.6 per cent of partners now have a share of the equity. This compares with 63 per cent in 2004.

Dundas ;& ;Wilson, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC), Russell-Cooke and Wragge & Co are the only four firms left with all-equity partnerships – down from eight in 2005.

The tightest equity on the list is held by North West firm DWF, where some 80 per cent of its partners remain outside the equity.

RPC ;CEO ;Richard Emanuel admitted that his firm might have to change its model in the future. “We can’t say this is the way it’s going to be forever,” he said. “It’s something that even a firm like this will review from time to time.”

Simmons & Simmons managing partner Mark Dawkins predicted that the partnership model would become even more flexible in the future. “You could see a situation where fewer ­people have full equity, but more people have partial equity,” he said.