Wealth club’s new member

Money, money, money. Go on, admit it, you’ve been gagging to know all the little nuggets revealed in The Lawyer’s very first Money Issue. The UK’s richest lawyer last year was Andrew Nulty of Warrington’s Avalon Solicitors. You might well ask: “Who?”

Nulty heads a US-style ‘class action’ boutique that has almost literally appeared from nowhere. Certainly the five-year-old firm, with a £21.2m turnover and breathtaking 73 per cent profit margin, is making its debut in The Lawyer top 100. How long Nulty and his colleagues stay there is open for debate. As we report on the front page, the firm is currently being investigated by the Law Society.

Unlike others that have earned huge sums over the past five years thanks to the miners’ compensation scheme, Nulty came to the scheme late. But the former rugby star has attacked it with gusto, resulting in the £13m pay packet. Yes, you read that right. Nulty’s earnings last year leave the City elite trailing far in his slipstream. There are now 392 solicitors and 30 barristers earning more than £1m a year. Next year the majority of Freshfields’ partners are likely to join the £1m-plus club, which will leave Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy (A&O) reeling. Linklaters’ million-pounders can thank Tony Angel’s brutal restructuring, while Freshfields is undergoing a similar process under uncompromising new chief executive officer Ted Burke.

If Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs hadn’t taken £40m of costs out of the business the firm’s PEP would be significantly lower than this year’s £810,000. But how much more he can he chop without damaging the underlying business model?

A&O’s travails have dominated our headlines in recent weeks, but it’s doubtful that the partnership has the appetite for such a revolution. These figures are just the eye-catching tip of the iceberg. The Lawyer is on holiday next week, but returns on 4 September with The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report. That’s where the real nitty-gritty financial analysis is done and where you can discover the relative financial health of all the UK’s leading firms and chambers.

After titillating your interest so much with the contents of people’s pay packets, where will we go next? Perhaps it’s time for the Sex Issue. Okay, we probably won’t be doing that, but beware. We could.