Ashurst has asked up to six equity partners to leave the firm in the wake of a sharp reduction in profits.
It has also relocated a small group of assistants from the relatively quiet corporate department into the strongly performing finance group. Earlier this year, the firm stepped up its assistant appraisal system, axing six on performance grounds.
The firm has been braced for a significant profits plunge since spring this year, although the figures presented to the partners last Friday (16 July) are understood to be slightly better than the 15 per cent fall that well-placed partners had expected earlier this year.
Some of the departing partners are believed to be in Germany, where the Frankfurt office has under-performed, for some time. Others are understood to be based in the London corporate department. One of the number was asked to leave around five months ago.
The firm’s new managing partner Simon Bromwich is closely analysing costs at the firm. Ashurst modified its lockstep in late 2002, during the doomed merger talks with Fried Frank, to include two gateways partners can be moved down if they are no longer performing at the appropriate level. As revealed by The Lawyer (3 May), the firm has moved some underpeformers down the lockstep in a bid to cut costs.
Ashurst declined to comment.