Bevan Brittan to vote on shake-up as PEP drops

Restructure plan to move chief exec Whitfield to client-facing role; non-lawyer slated to take over

<a class=Bevan Brittan to vote on shake-up as PEP drops” class=”inline_image inline_image_left” src=”/pictures/web/images/12829_whitfield-bevan-britten.jpg” />Bevan Brittan is considering plans to vote chief executive Stuart Whitfield out of his role as part of a management restructure aimed at pepping up falling profit.

Whitfield’s ;position as chief executive could be in doubt after a four-partner ­committee, tasked by the partnership with coming up with a restructuring plan, suggested he be replaced.

The committee proposed that non-lawyer and chief operating officer (COO) Andrew Manning takes over as chief executive while Whitfield would move into a client-facing role in the commercial practice and become senior partner.

Voting is ongoing and is expected to conclude at the beginning of August.
The drastic measures have come after the firm’s net ­profit dropped by 36.5 per cent to £6.1m in the 2007-08 financial year, down from £9.6m the previous year. Average profit per equity partner has plummeted by £54,000, from £234,000 to £180,000 – a slide of 23 per cent – despite the equity partner headcount dropping from 41 to 33 in the past year.

Bevan Brittan commercial development ;director Sally Calverley said: “We’ve ­identified a need to increase profit, so having a person who is both internally and externally focused is not felt to be the right way forward.”

The ultimate aim of the proposed restructure is to increase net profit by 37 per cent in the next 12 months. The target for the end of the year is £8.4m – 12.5 per cent lower than the £9.6m posted at the end of 2006-07.

In addition to Whitfield, 13 management partners and 18 sector heads face ­losing their responsibilities. The proposals recommend having just four sector heads as the firm targets business in its core areas of health, local government, private sector and corporate.

Bevan Brittan has also recently ;completed ;a redundancy consultation that will see six fee-earners and around 24 support staff leave the firm.

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