Norton Rose has still not paid its partners a considerable proportion of profits owed for the financial year ending April 2002 after cashflow problems in 2003.
Norton Rose refused to comment on the exact proportion of unpaid profits, but a number of partners claim to have received less than 50 per cent of the profits over and above the monthly drawings and pension contributions they expected from that year.
The situation is compounded by partners experiencing significant delays in getting their profits for the year 2000-01, as revealed by The Lawyer (29 July 2002).
Chief executive Peter Martyr claimed the firm was in a “normal distribution pattern”. He claimed to have “not a clue” what the exact level of distribution remaining from 2001-02 was, but said the firm was “nearly through that”.
One senior source claimed that the financial situation had improved dramatically in the last three months. Whatever the exact level of outstanding profits for the year is, the source said the firm now hopes to clear it by the end of February.
Norton Rose has struggled financially over the last couple of years.
According to 2003’s The Lawyer 100, profits per equity partner fell by 15 per cent to an average of £390,000.
The firm also used its ‘floor’ system to bolster the bottom of equity for the first time since 1993. The system redistributes profits from the top of equity to partners at the bottom of the lockstep.