SJ Berwin boosts billings by 23 per cent; raises bonus

SJ Berwin has joined the flurry of firms reporting impressive yearend figures, after the silver circle firm revealed a 23 per cent increase in billings for the 2006-07 financial year.

As a result of the promising figures, SJ Berwin has doubled its firmwide bonus for all staff to 5 per cent of salary, up from 2.5 per cent last year. The bonus is expected to be distributed later this month.

Senior partner Jonathan Blake told The Lawyer that the firm had billed in excess of £185m last financial year.

He said that turnover was also expected to have roughly increased 23 per cent, although the firm had not yet valued all of its work in progress (WIP).

A 23 per cent increase in turnover would push the firm to around £190m, up from £155m in turnover in 2005-06. This follows a 27 per cent increase in turnover in 2005-06.

If the estimated 23 per cent increase in turnover proves correct, SJ Berwin will surpass its original turnover target of £174m for 2006-07. This is, however, down on the 35 per cent increase in turnover reported for the first six months of 2006-07.

Blake said that all of the firm’s offices and practice groups had a strong year, but corporate had performed exceptionally well off the back of the continuing M&A boom. The firm’s Paris and German offices also performed well.

The 2006-07 financial year was one of significant change for SJ Berwin, with Blake taking over as senior partner from his predecessor David Harrell on 1 May 2006.

The firm has subsequently looked to re-evaluate its international strategy and internal working policies, although this backfired somewhat late last year when a shake-up in the firm’s associate bonuses structure was meant with public outcry.