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Cutting back: Ashurst’s highest paid member hit with 11% pay decrease, as other staff costs fall

Ashurst‘s highest paid member pocketed 11% less in the 2014/15 financial year compared to 2013/14, the firm’s LLP accounts show. The member with the highest entitlement to profit took home a little over £1m compared to £1.1m the previous year.

This contrasts from the firm’s LLPs last year that showed highest earning member pay was up 16% compared with the previous financial year when the highest profit share’s value was £977,000. The figures in the LLP accounts do not necessarily equate to the highest paid equity member and can relate to ‘golden handshakes’ to retiring members.

The average number of persons employed during the year also dropped by 9% from 2,898 to 2,651, with fee-earning staff heads falling by 93 to 1,399 (down 6%) and other staff head figures falling more considerably by 11% from 1,406 to 1,252. As a result, overall staff costs were down 6% from over £235m to £220m, with salary costs decreasing 7% and social security costs down by 10%.

Ashurst saw some sizeable team exits last year including a nine-lawyer team exit from its US offices, and a four-partner team that left to join King & Spalding in Tokyo.

The audited figures show income is in line with the firm’s revenues posted in July last year decreasing 4% from £582m to £558.6m. In summer 2015 the firm said the results ‘came as no surprise’ given that the last 12 months was a year of investment, including the implementation of a new business strategy, and added that ‘on a like-for-like basis’, with figures adjusted for movement in exchange rates, revenues were up 1% from £558m in 2014.

The firm’s profit for the financial year available for division among members dropped in 2014/15 from just over £203m to £186m falling 8%, while operating profit decreased by 10% from £214m to £193m.

Filed with Companies House, the LLP accounts are the second since Ashurst’s merger with Blake Dawson in November 2013, following the big six Australian firm’s rebranding as Ashurst Australia in March 2012. The LLP comprises legal and tax activity in Asia, Australia, continental Europe, the Middle East, North America and the UK.