Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer slashed its support staff headcount by more than 10 per cent across its global practice during the 2009-10 financial year.
Secretarial and support staff numbers at the magic circle firm fell from 2,307 in 2008-09 to 2,062 last year according to LLP counts filed with Companies House.
Average staff numbers fell by just under 9 per cent over the same period, from 4,901 to 4,466, while the figure for fee-earners dropped from 2,594 to 2,780 – a decline of 7 per cent.
Despite the cuts, staff costs over the year increased slightly, from £481m to £487m.
The accounts also show an operating profit of £370.9m, down 28 per cent from the £514.2m posted during 2008-09. Profit available for division among members fell from £523.2m to £264.7m over the same period, although the dip is partly explained by a £103m pension provision for partners.
The accounts further reveal that Freshfields’ highest-earning partner took home £2.7m last year, compared with £3.3m in 2008-09.
Average partner profits at the firm in 2009-10 were £1.406m, slightly down from £1.443m the previous year.