Lawrence Graham has become the latest firm to announce a sizeable drop in profitability, with average profit per equity partner (PEP) sliding by 14 per cent between 2011/12 and 2012/13 to £260,000.
The firm’s financial results show PEP falling from £303,000 in 2011/12 (25 July 2012), while turnover fell 7.5 per cent from £56m to £51.8m last year.
Overall headcount for the firm was also down. Total staff numbers dropped from 344 in 2011/12 to 311 last year. The number of qualified lawyers fell by 21, from 191 to 170, although there was less change in partner numbers. The number of equity partners was steady at 28, while the total partnership fell from 71.27 partners in 2011/12 to 69.69 partners last year, on a full-time equivalent basis.
Among its staff losses, Lawrence Graham made eight lawyers and eight support staff redundant at the end of last year (10 December 2012).
Managing partner Hugh Maule admitted 2012/13 had been “another challenging year”.
“Our London property costs again weighed heavily on profits but this issue has now been addressed,” he said. ”All of our surplus office space has been sub-let (to Bond Dickinson and an international property developer). We therefore expect profitability to increase significantly this current financial year.”
Maule said the firm’s Dubai office grew by 35 per cent, following a 40 per cent increase in 2011/12. The results show that Lawrence Graham’s international offices, which also include Monaco, Moscow and a new Singapore office (17 February 2012) contributed £1.5m to total turnover, with London bringing in £50.3m.
“Growing our international business continues to be a strategic priority,” added Maule. ”We invested in our new Singapore office and our alliance in Brazil and are now seeing the benefits. Our private capital team in particular is winning a considerable amount of new business from across south east Asia where we have advised clients for over 20 years.
He said the firm would continue to invest in Dubai.
Maule pointed to private capital as an area of growth last year, with revenue rising 8 per cent. He said the corporate and real estate teams had found the market environment tough, although real estate had recorded a “marginal” increase in revenue.
“Work from overseas clients again accounts for around 40 per cent of our business. We hope to increase this still further going forward,” Maule concluded.