Watson Burton broadens equity as part of retention strategy

North East firm Watson Burton is in the final stages of opening up its tight ­equity in an attempt to retain and reward younger salaried partners and ­associates.

While ;amendments to Watson Burton’s LLP ­agreement have not yet been signed, it is understood the changes were approved by the partnership earlier this summer, ;with ;profits already being distributed on the new basis.
The project had been planned for more than a year, as reported by The Lawyer (5 March).

The firm said in a ­statement: “Watson Burton has formally agreed to extend its equity participation and change its income and capital structures to increase business efficiency and widen ownership and reward.”

In 2006 Watson Burton had just seven equity ­partners out of a total ­partnership of 40. At the end of the 2007-08 financial year this had increased to 15 equity partners out of a total of 38.

The firm said this ratio has been improved even further, but refused to confirm the new ratio of equity to non-equity partners.

In the last financial year each of the firm’s equity partners is understood to have taken home an ­average of around £440,000, with the equity spread ranging from around £350,000 to £530,000. This made it one of the most profitable firms in the region.

The firm has been hit by some high-profile departures in Newcastle and London, but it has also made several hires in the City, such as that of Hammonds construction partner David Jones (The Lawyer.com, 15 February) and the acquisition of two-partner Surrey-based IT boutique Trevor Robinson & Co (TheLawyer.com, 1 May).