Mayer Brown posts falling turnover

Can Mayer Brown stem the flow of staff after disappointing results?

Last week The Lawyer compared US firms’ financial results with a ballooning cake. This week, that cake looked more like a collapsed chocolate fondant. Mayer Brown played the part of the gooey bit in the middle, with both partner profits and turnover sliding to a six-year low.

But as any chocolate-lover knows, there is good and bad in that gooey centre. While revenue fell from $1.13bn (£751m) in 2011 to $1.09bn in 2012, you can argue that there’s more to life than numbers.

“Mayer Brown has been picked on a little bit,” insists one recruiter, adding the firm is yet to slow down its recruitment campaign. “The year varies from team to team, some teams have had a nightmare, others have had a great year. There certainly isn’t a huge number of people wanting to leave.”

But the firm has lost weight in more ways than one. In London, last year’s exits included reinsurance litigator Ian McKenna, who went to US rival Locke Lord; structured finance partner Stephen Day, who left for Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft; corporate partner William Charnley, who quit for King & Spalding; leveraged finance partner Neil Caddy, who joined Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and finance partner Nicola Marley, who left for Minter Ellison.

This came after the firm lost five partners in a short space of time the previous December, when partners confirmed their intention to quit in favour of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, White & Case and Eversheds.

Then you can also put into the mix those chats between Mayer Brown and SJ Berwin last year, when discussions of a tie-up were, apparently, seen as a solution to the erosion of headcount in London, suggesting that the firm wants to halt the flow of exits.

The ingredients are there for a recovery, Mayer Brown just needs to figure out the method.

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