Dorsey’s US partners hit out over global strategy

London partners owe the firm $20,000 each in drawings after failing to meet profit projections

Dorsey & Whitney is facing partner dissent in its Minneapolis head office over international strategy after profit failed to hit targets.

London partners are understood to have ended the financial year owing the firm money after profit per point came in $20,000 (£10,600) less than was projected. The firm was rocked in January when eight senior partners quit for Arnold & Porter, claiming that it offered a superior international platform.

“I’ve heard [Dorsey] partners say they want to be the pre-eminent firm from Minneapolis to Seattle,” said one of the departing partners.

Some Dorsey partners have grown increasingly isolationist as the firm’s international offices have fallen short. The Brussels office was closed in April 2003 and Tokyo in November 2004.

Dorsey’s New York managing partner Bob Dwyer said: “We’re larger in Asia now than before we closed Tokyo. The Brussels partners have now moved to London. We remain focused internationally. We’re committed to London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.”

Dwyer claimed that the firm achieved all of its profit projections, although he refused to disclose details. It is understood that overall average profit per partner was up 11 per cent to $481,000 (£255,200) in 2004.

At the beginning of the financial year London partners are set a points figure, an exchange rate is agreed (although it will be revised if it fluctuates wildly) and partners are paid one-twelfth of that every month. As London did not hit its projected points figure, the partners there were left owing the firm money for the last financial year.

Entry level partners get 0.66 points and senior partners three points, in addition to which there is a bonus pool. Dorsey hit $255,000 (£135,300) per point against original projections of $275,000 (£145,900) per point.

London partners declined to comment on the financials but insisted that they felt no lessening of commitment from central management.