Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) posted a 2% drop in revenue and profitability while paying £6.25m for its 50% stake in flexible legal resourcing business AdventBalance, according to the firm’s latest filings with Companies House.
The firm’s LLP reports offices in the UK, Continental and Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East and contributions from all other BLP subsidiaries, including Lawyers on Demand (LOD) and Australian firm AdventBalance.
The accounts show turnover for the 2015/16 financial year was down to £253.9m, a decrease of around 2% on the £259.2m posted last year. Profitability also took a hit with profits before distribution falling 2% from £76m in 2015 to £74.2m last year, while operating profit was down 3% from £78m to £76m.
Profit per equity partner (PEP) withheld the fall in revenue to hit £687,000, a 4% increase on 2014/15 when PEP stood at £661,000. In contrast, the profit share of highest paid member was £1.5m, down from £1.54m the year before. This figure in LLP accounts does not necessarily equate to the highest paid equity partner and can relate to ‘golden handshakes’ to retiring members.
Staff costs fell to £107.8m from £108.2m, while the number of legal staff remained at 639 and support staff numbers fell from 606 to 598.
According to the accounts, BLP’s February 2016 acquisition of a 50% stake in Australian freelancing business AdventBalance cost £6.25m, and post acquisition revenues amounted to £2.3m, while profit after tax was £0.3m.
In July 2016, BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘We’re happy. It’s our second highest PEP achievement ever and to end the second year in a row with cash in the bank was particularly pleasing. We would rather that was different but in the environment we were operating in, and with the investments we’ve made, we were pretty pleased with revenue as well.’
Mayhew added that costs associated with the merger between freelance lawyer service LOD, which it majority owns, and Australasian counterpart AdventBalance ‘run into the millions of pounds’ so made the rise in PEP ‘even more pleasing’.
Plans to merge BLP with Miami legal giant Greenberg Traurig last year in a deal that would have made BLP part of a £1bn firm, were abandoned in March 2016. Most recently, BLP landed the lucrative Crown Estate mandate for its £7bn Central London property portfolio from King & Wood Mallesons.