Smaller and regional firms savour their portion of the PEP limelight

Smaller and regional firms savour their portion of the PEP limelight Last week was the turn of smaller and regional firms to share the Top of the PEPs limelight on TheLawyer. com.

Birmingham-based Martineau Johnson recorded an astonishing 48 per cent rise in profit per equity partner (PEP) from £176,000 to £260,000. Apart from Salans’ 107.6 per cent rise in PEP, Martineaus now has the distinction of posting the biggest increase in PEP of any UK-headquartered firm so far this year.

But as reported last week (4 June), the firm has had a rollercoaster ride over the past couple of years, with two years of property windfalls artificially boosting the bottom line.

Meanwhile, London and South East firm Lewis Silkin has also bounced back from its dark days three years ago. In 2005 it opened in Oxford – an investment that dragged down PEP from £245,000 the previous year to £162,000. This year Lewis Silkin’s average PEP was £330,000.

Managing partner Ian Jeffery was adamant that the increase in revenue from £25.2m to £29.4m was due not just to the firm’s stellar employment, media and litigation practices but also to a buoyant corporate and property group.

That said, Lewis Silkin was flat out last year on several high-profile cases – not least advising Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on an age discrimination claim from former partner Peter Bloxham.

Further north, Newcastle firm Ward Hadaway was in the news last week for two reasons. First, its spanking new Leeds office, with a haul of five laterally hired partners. These things do not come cheap, but as observed, the costs will fall mostly in the current year.

So the fact the firm’s PEP grew by only 2.5 per cent to £415,000 may lead to a period of belt-tightening. There are only 14 full partners out of a total of 61. On these results, we cannot see the Newcastle firm extending its tightly-held equity just yet.