The Lawyer UK 200 Rank19

After years of searching, UK law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner finally secured a US merger in April 2018, joining with St Louis-headquartered Bryan Cave. Berwin Leighton Paisner emerged out of three firms: Berwin & Co (founded by City legend Stanley Berwin), Leighton & Co and Paisner & Co, and gained a reputation as one of the City’s strongest firms for real estate work. Throughout the 2000s the firm was led by Neville Eisenberg, who had been a star associate and

After years of searching, UK law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner finally secured a US merger in April 2018, joining with St Louis-headquartered Bryan Cave.

Berwin Leighton Paisner emerged out of three firms: Berwin & Co (founded by City legend Stanley Berwin), Leighton & Co and Paisner & Co, and gained a reputation as one of the City’s strongest firms for real estate work.

Throughout the 2000s the firm was led by Neville Eisenberg, who had been a star associate and was made managing partner while still in his 30s. Eisenberg steered the firm to excellent financial results in the pre-recession years of his leadership, and led BLP’s transformation into an international, if not fully global, law firm.

Eisenberg also oversaw investment in innovation, including the opening of a low-cost hub in Manchester and the 2007 creation of contract lawyer service Lawyers on Demand (LoD) in a bid to drive efficiencies through the firm.

Post-recession, some of the shine rubbed off the firm as it endured a more difficult period. In particular, 2012/13 was a tough year, with the firm shedding 102 legal and secretarial positions in a redundancy programme, a series of high-profile partner exits, and average partner profits falling from £660,000 to £401,000 while net debt grew by 134 per cent from £14.78m to £34.59m.

The year 2015 saw a changing of the guard as both Eisenberg and senior partner Harold Paisner stepped down from their roles – both had been in post for well over a decade.

Eisenberg became senior partner while employment head Lisa Mayhew was elected to the managing partner role. It was she who eventually secured the 2018 merger with Bryan Cave. Talks with Greenberg Traurig had fallen through in 2016 with the two firms unable to find enough common ground.

Bryan Cave had not travelled well, historically. When the merger deal was signed the US firm’s 381-strong partnership has just 27 based outside of the US across its six overseas offices. The highest concentration of those were in London where the firm had 13 partners.

In contrast to Bryan Cave’s hugely US-focused practice, BLP had more than a quarter of its partnership stationed outside of the UK and opened up the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions to the Americans.

Unlike many UK-US mergers, the firm is fully financially integrated, not a Swiss verein.

Mayhew has been vocal about diversity within law and was a key figure behind BLP’s move to set a target of achieving a 30 per cent female partnership by 2018.

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner?

1st year trainee: £40,000

2nd year trainee: £45,000

What is the NQ salary at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner?

NQ solicitor: £70,000

Appointed Managing partner Senior partner
1999 Neville Eisenberg
2001 Harold Paisner
2015 Lisa Mayhew Neville Eisenberg