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LLP accounts show BLP flagging ahead of Bryan Cave merger as profit fell 21%

Legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner was hit by a 21% drop in profit and 3% dip in revenue in its last full financial year prior to its merger with Bryan Cave, LLP accounts reveal.

Last February, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP)’s quest for a US tie-up received a shot in the arm when its transatlantic merger with Bryan Cave was approved by partners, with the deal going live in April 2018.

LLP accounts show operating profit at BLP fell from £72.5m in 2017 to £56.9m in 2018 as revenue dropped from £271.2m to £263.6m in the same period. Meanwhile, profit division among members showed a modest 1% drop from £163k to £161k against a backdrop of a 14% increase in the number of members from 152 to 174.

Total compensation paid to management fell by 18% from £13.1m in 2017 to £10.7m in 2018 with the highest paid fee-earner taking home £1.38m compared with £1.4m last year.

Since the union completed, BCLP has moved away from lockstep towards a more US-style remuneration structure.

Meanwhile the firm announced today (29 January) its first financial results as a merged entity. The overall figures for 2018  are only slightly more positive, with revenue rising a meagre 1% to $905m, while profit per equity partner rose 5%. Currently the firm has a combined cash balance of $100m.

Following the merger, both firms agreed to full financial integration from day one, with the firm suffering a hefty tax bill as a result of adopting the US calendar year-end to April and cash accounting. However the firm did raise funds from the sale of New Law outfit Lawyers On Demand to buyout house Bowmark Capital in May last year.

In an interview with Legal Business last year, firm co-chair Therese Pritchard (pictured) said the firm wanted to see revenue growth over the next two or three years. Meanwhile, the firm will be moving into its new London offices later this year, decamping from BLP’s established home at Adelaide House.