BLP’s profits pain

It was a long time coming, but Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has finally unveiled its 2012/13 profit figures. And as widely expected, they reveal a 39 per cent drop in average profit per equity partner (PEP) and a 38 per cent drop in net profit.

PEP has tumbled from £660,000 to £401,000 while net has dropped from £63.6m to £39.4m, giving the firm a profit margin of 17 per cent and creating an internal climate that has seen a significant number of its partners visit the exit door.

Today’s story is likely to unleash a torrent of comments on, with one apparent sympathiser already posting, “Having trained at BLP, it’s sad to see the firm go to the wall. Lets hope that the partner exits stop and that assistant morale goes up.”

Well, it hasn’t gone to the wall, though there have certainly been a rash of partner exits in recent weeks including the likes of former Managed Legal Services head Patrick Somers, who joined DLA Piper; global private equity head Raymond McKeeve, who left to join Jones Day; contentious tax head Liesl Fichardt, who was hired by Clifford Chance. Oh, and acquisition finance partner Andrew Bamber, who quit over the summer.

Fair play to BLP though, there are still several firms in the UK200 that either refuse to divulge financial data – stand up Slaughters, Keoghs and Dickson Minto for example – or clam up when things turn sour. This year BLP has taken it on the chin, while making a none-too-sly dig at the Magic Circle for “competing more aggressively on price”.

Next year, particularly if corporate comes back, the real estate department holds its own and the pesky Big Four stay away, it is sincerely hoping things can only get better. We’ll know in a year.

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