Clifford Chance‘s end-of-year financial results are spectacular. Two years ago, the firm’s average profit per equity partner (PEP) lagged behind all of its magic circle rivals but successive 25 per cent growth spurts show just what can be achieved when you put your mind to it. See story.
Breaking through the £1m barrier for PEP is, of course, hugely significant. Just as it was when Linklaters did it last year.
But don’t be fooled that this is solely a reflection of the standout year Clifford Chance has had. (Good though it undoubtedly has been.) It also reflects the brutal cost-cutting overseen by managing partner David Childs over the past couple of years, a painful process which saw 300 support staff axed.
That pain is something that Links has already been through. And something Freshfields is currently in the middle of.
So, probably no £1m PEP for Freshfields this year. But if the collateral damage isn’t too bad, next year might be a very different story.