Ashurst top earner saw dip in profit, LLP accounts show

Ashurst’s highest-earning partner took home £1.052m in the 2010-11 financial year, marginally down on last year’s figure, according to the firm’s latest LLP accounts.

The amount was just under 2 per cent less than the £1.0725 earned by the highest-paid partner in 2009-10 (4 Febuary 2011).

The figure includes money paid to partners leaving the firm. It dropped this year because this amount paid out to leavers can vary depending on when partners exit the firm.

The accounts, filed this week at Companies House, show that profit available for distribution among LLP members in 2010-11 was £97.3m, nearly 3 per cent up on £94.7m in 2009-10.

The firm has already posted an increase in turnover and profitability for 2010-11 (7 July 2011).

The profit figure in the LLP accounts is lower than the £107m net profit figure posted in July because the accounts treat junior partners and partners in certain jurisdictions outside the main LLP, such as the US and Far Eastern countries, as employees and not shareholders. This means they are considered a cost to the firm.

Average partner numbers were down roughly 3 per cent on 2009-10, from 179 to 173, while legal and support staff headcount dropped 2 per cent from 1,634 to 1,602. However, staff costs rose 4.5 per cent, from £122.3m to £127.8m.

The accounts also show that the firm took out £19,000 more on finance leases and financing transactions than in 2009-10 because of the cost of partners renewing their firm cars. It entered into finance leases and financing transactions valuing a total of £420,000 in 2010-11, an increase of just under 5 per cent, with all of this figure spent on renewing partners’ firm cars.

Other than these transactions, there was no debt on the balance sheet and cash in hand was up some 30 per cent, from £24.6m to £35.2m.

Total tax paid was up 23 per cent from from £3.5m to £4.3m because profits were channeled through a number of different service companies, meaning more tax was incurred.

Finance director Nigel Morland said: “2011 was a good year for the firm, with both turnover and profit up on 2010, and an even stronger balance sheet with no debt and £10m more of cash.”