Berwin Leighton Paisner is the latest firm to resort to a process of managing out and de-equitising partners in a bid to keep profits on an upward curve in tough market conditions.

The process is understood to have led to six partners exiting the firm. A further four have been either de-equitised or are being given the opportunity to improve their performance.

Those partners affected fall across all practice areas and levels of seniority.

The recent overhaul of the partnership comes two years after the merger of Berwin Leighton and Paisner & Co. The key objective of the deal was to create a more balanced firm, focused on corporate, finance and real estate. However, the merger also produced excessive partner-level coverage in areas such as construction and engineering, where a number of recent departures have fallen.

Last year’s profits per partner stood at a disappointing £260,000 compared with £345,000 at rival Nabarro Nathanson.

Managing partner Neville Eisenberg told The Lawyer: “I’m not managing any partners out of the firm at the moment. There have been departures over the past six months and we wish the partners that left success for the future.”

However, a source at the firm confirmed that a review of partners has just taken place using appraisals. “The process is completed. It is part of the normal management of the equity of the firm. The intensity of that varies from time to time, depending on market conditions and strategic priorities.”

Another source commented: “This is part of us becoming a lean, mean fighting machine.”

BLP made 30 redundancies last year, 16 of which involved lawyers (The Lawyer, 13 May 2002).