Cost cuts see Biddle’s partner profits double

Biddle’s profits per partner have soared by 50 per cent after cutting costs and tackling slack habits in recording billable hours.

Average profits per partner have risen to £270,000 with top of equity receiving £350,000 – £100,000 more than last year. Bottom of equity has seen an increase from £35,000 to £160,000.

Gross fees have risen marginally from £13m to £13.3m. Senior partner Martin Winter blames the discrepancy on the financial year end changing from June to April.

He adds that if it had not been for the last three bumper months of the previous financial year, 1999 gross fees would have been considerably lower.

Winter says that this year’s partnership profit growth is due to controlling costs rather than any particularly high billing deals or new clients.

He adds that in previous years, fee-earners failed to record all possible chargeable hours. “We looked very closely at everyone across the board and at getting people to do 1300-1400 [chargeable hours].

“Some were greatly exceeding and some were not. There is always reluctance to put down hours. We have tried to encourage people to put down the number of hours and then it is up to the partner to decide what to charge.”

The 32-partner firm has 21 equity partners – one more than last year – and profits are distributed on merit. The total number of fee-earners has fallen from 79 to 70.

Clients of the firm, which is strong in publishing, pensions litigation and corporate finance, include the Press Association, Forbes Magazine, Faber Music, the trus-tees of the Maxwell Pension Fund, National Power, HJ Heinz, the Cedar Group and Lopex.