Speechly Bircham revenue drop shows impact of RBS loss

Speechly Bircham has posted a fall in revenue for the 2011-12 financial year, with total fee income down by 3 per cent from £59.5m to £57.6m.

Michael Lingens
Michael Lingens

Net profit also fell, from £14m to £11.3m, while average profit per equity partner dropped from £384,000 to £300,000. Earnings per partner, which is the total money paid to all classes of partner divided by the total number of partners, fell from £260,000 to £219,000.

A similarly downward trajectory in the equity spread at Speechlys also suggested that it had been a tough year for the firm. The bottom of equity fell from £217,000 to £180,000 while the top fell from £504,000 to £400,000.

In a statement the firm’s UK managing partner Michael Lingens admitted that the results were “disappointing”.

“[They] reflect the impact of our ceasing to act as principal property adviser to a major clearing bank, as well as it having been a poor year for commercial disputes work,” added Lingens.

Last year Speechly was dropped from the real estate panel of its biggest client, the Royal Bank of Scotland, a development that is thought to have cost it around £2m in fee income.

“The firm’s other practice areas continued to perform well and we also invested in new areas, such as our intellectual property and insolvency practices and by opening our first overseas offices in Zurich and Luxembourg last June, to support our expanding international work in the private wealth and financial services sectors,” Lingens continued. “We’ve made several lateral partner hires to strengthen our offering to the US market. The overall objective is to reduce our reliance on the UK legal market.”

Last year Speechly hired restructuring partner Rupert Connell from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (now Clyde & Co). It also hired Travers Smith restructuring specialist Keith Bordell, the former head of the firm’s corporate recovery team (4 November 2011).