Late-paying clients force Linklaters to stall partner takings

Linklaters has delayed its latest partner profit distribution after cautious clients’ slow payments forced a lengthening in the firm’s work in progress (WIP).

The firm was due to make a distribution, disbursed every two months, to partners on 10 November, which is on top of the usual ‘salary’ that is paid out monthly.
However, Linklaters has split the payment into two halves, meaning that a percentage was released at the end of November with the remainder expected to reach partners in the second half of December.

Linklaters managing partner Tony Angel said that although the firm has been performing ahead of last year at the interim stage, because of longer WIP, turnover for the first six months of 2003/04, at £365m, was around the same amount as the comparable period in the year before.

“People may be reacting to the recession, but they’re slower to get bills paid. [Partners] don’t just send them out, there’s a lot more negotiation at an earlier stage,” he said.

Linklaters also delayed a payout in September, but this was due to the implementation of its SAP IT system in May.

A backlog in billings, which returned to normal levels at the end of June, created a knock-on effect on distributions.

Angel said the finance and projects departments continued to perform strongly, after a surge in activity during the second half of the last financial year, when overall revenue increased 14.1 per cent to £720m. He added that real estate and litigation had also seen a significant upturn.

In corporate, a brief hiatus of energy in September has since subsided. Angel said that there are indications that the market may pick up towards the fourth quarter.