Cobbetts rewards staff with share of £15.7m fee income

Manchester firm Cobbetts has overshot its budget target for the last financial year – and has celebrated by handing out bonus payments to its staff.

The firm posted a fee income of £15.7m for the financial year 2000-2001, an increase of 13.7 per cent from last year’s revenue of £13.8m. The budget was set at £15.25m, but bonuses kicked in if the firm surpassed £15.5m.

Managing partner Michael Shaw says: “Every year, whenever we’ve gone over budget, we’ve always given the first tranche of surplus profit back to the staff. Around Christmas time I wanted to drive performance on, so it seemed sensible to announce [the scheme] then, so everyone had something to aim for.”

Under the system, support staff will receive £600 each, trainees and paralegals £900, associates £1,500 and salaried partners £3,000.

Shaw says: “Performance was fairly consistent across the board. Every team has actually delivered.”

Cobbetts’ partner profit looks set to increase in line with the rise in turnover. Last year, The Lawyer 100 reported that average profit per partner had risen by nearly 50 per cent to £183,000. Partners at the top of the equity drew £210,000 and those at the bottom £160,000, while fees per fee-earner were £153,000.

“This year the [profit] spread will be more like £115,000-£215,000, but we’ve also raised the number of equity partners by four,” says Shaw.

The firm, which was ranked 90th in The Lawyer 100 last year, has 48 partners, 25 of whom are equity.

In the financial year 1999-2000, Cobbetts introduced changes to the profit share-out, including an element of merit-based remuneration.

Fellow Manchester firm Halliwell Landau, which ranked 70th in The Lawyer 100 last year, has also posted a sharp rise in fee income.

Its turnover has leapt by more than 19 per cent from £21.8m in 1999-2000 to £26m for the last financial year, and from £17.5m the year before that. No figures are yet available for profit per partner within the firm. But last year, according the The Lawyer 100, profitability stood at £298,000 per partner.

Senior partner Alec Craig says: “We’ve hit all our targets in terms of growth and we’ve increased turnover and continued recruitment of the highest calibre staff.”

Halliwell’s key clients include Alfred McAlpine, the Royal Bank of Scotland, First National Bank, Barclays Bank and Aer Lingus.