The Firm

Pratchard here. Tremendous news for you to spread among friends, fellow lawyers and the press. Fees for 98/99 rocketed to £20m, profits per partner up to £160,000, investment up, new clients up. Everything is up! Well done. Spread this joyous news.

Now for the real figures, which are slightly disappointing once again. Fees are up, but only £10m to £10,000,024.23. As always profits per partner are harder to calculate. It depends which partner you're referring to. For example, Henderson's had another bumper year taking home a cool £700,000 (and that's just the earnings we know about). On the other hand, I've once again put the interests of The Firm first and refused to increase my drawings from last year's humble figure of £998,000.

And I know many of you – more accurately, all of you – have made even greater sacrifices. I'd like to give special mention to Chalmers who believed Henderson's clever argument that paying him any money at all would send out the wrong messages – after all he does co-ordinate The Firm's pro bono effort. I know that some junior partners are unhappy with their earnings and one, Phillips, left to join a legal aid firm in Hackney because "the money was just too tempting".

The point is that you voted for merit-based remuneration, you voted for the three-man remuneration committee – Mr Henderson, Mr Henderson's Filipino manservant Kip and George, Mr Henderson's dog. I know for a fact that every partner supports this system, because all those who opposed it were kicked out (coincidentally admitted to hospital or sent to the Hull office) before the vote took place.

There's not been much of merit to remunerate. Yes, it's true that last year litigation managed to win a case. And negligence suits against property fell to only £250m, the lowest figure for a decade. But with the exception of our always superb quarrying team, once again rated market leaders by the Chambers Directory, and our fledgling sports law department, there's little to toast.

So what of appointments for 1999? Our focus was to be on promotion from within and, as a demonstration of The Firm's commitment to rewarding dedication and sharing the fruits of hard work, we selected a number of our highest-earning salaried partners for appointment to equity partnership. Unfortunately, objections were raised – namely by those selected, who claim they do not agree with The Firm's concept of equity.

There's been a new-fangled fad sweeping through the legal profession which I've decided to set myself four-square against. Ladies. Apparently some skirt called Balfour-Lynn has been appointed managing partner of crim outfit Peters & Peters. Where will it end? Big, shaven-headed lesbians goose-stepping down Chancery Lane demanding the vote?

Unfortunately, Henderson says there are so-called moral and legal difficulties with my "old-fashioned" views. So we've been forced to appoint a lady to the partnership. Ms (no that's not a misspelling of Mrs!) Alison Brett is a new partner in the corporate department. We'll need new toilets and everything on the third floor.

What we must do is put last year's problems behind us and look to the future. Yes, we have three counts of money laundering hanging over us. But Henderson assures me that the police will be losing key pieces of evidence within a fortnight. Yes, many of you are fishing round other firms looking for lateral hires. But I ask you to remember The Firm's motto: "There is no escape."

Happy new financial year.