BLP busts lockstep to pay top earner £1.6m

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) top-earning partner took home £1.6m during 2009-10, a profit share 60 per cent above that paid to partners on the top rung of the firm’s modified lockstep.

Neville Eisenberg
Neville Eisenberg

According to accounts filed with Companies House, the £1.6m represented profits allocated in the 2008-09 financial year, when plateau partners received a profit share of £1m. In 2009-10 the top-of-equity payment was £1.2m.

BLP managing partner Neville Eisenberg has long been known for his willingness to break lockstep to secure high-profile laterals. During the 2009 calendar year the firm added partners such as Andrew Bamber and Sidney Myers from Allen & Overy, Nic Fletcher from Clifford Chance and Raymond McKeeve from Kirkland & Ellis via Robert Tchenguiz’s buyout vehicle R20 (21 September 2009).

Overall profit for the 2009-10 financial year was £59.2m, up 11 per cent on the previous year’s figure. With £42m of this being distributed among the firm’s 93 equity partners, salaried partners shared £17.2m between them. This means salaried partners earned an average of £174,000 during the year.

BLP’s modified lockstep allocates 20 per cent of partners’ remuneration based on performance. On the lockstep element partners enter the equity on 50 points, typically taking 10 years to reach plateau.

However, as with many firms, this process can be accelerated. Remuneration is allocated on the basis of a number of criteria, including how many hours partners bill, what role they take on a deal and the contribution to business development.

The bottom of equity increased slightly last year, from £185,000 to £208,000.

Elsewhere, the accounts reveal that the firm’s total staff costs rose slightly, from £82m to £88m.