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DLA Piper pay to highest earning LLP member nears £2m despite firm’s profit dropping

The highest-paid LLP member at DLA Piper International took home £1.96m last year, 8% more than the biggest payout last year, despite the firm’s profit dipping.

The biggest earner at DLA Piper’s non-US operations trousered £1.955m in 2014/15, according to the firm’s latest filings at Companies House which covers the UK businesses as well continental Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

This constitutes a £155,000 rise on the previous year when the highest payout was £1.8m. The figures in the LLP accounts do not necessarily equate to the highest paid equity partner and can relate to ‘golden handshakes’ to retiring members.

The accounts also showed the firm’s profit dropped from £277m to £270m during Sir Nigel Knowles’ last year as chief executive, with turnover falling by 3% from £787.6m to £765.7m. Knowles’ replacement, Simon Levine, has been at the helm since 1 January 2015.

Total staff numbers also fell slightly, from 5,071 to 4,926, largely due to the firm’s profitability drive. Support staff figures fell from 2,620 to 2,557 as equity partners dipped from 703 to 676.

In the UK alone, the number of lawyers at the firm dropped, from 1,005 in 2013/14 to 982 last year, while the number of support staff decreased by three to 1,477. Overall employee headcount fell from 2,687 to 2,630, while the number of equity partners in the UK fell from 345 to 331.

A breakdown of revenue by region showed turnover fell in the UK, continental Europe and Australia. Its practice across continental Europe was hardest hit, experiencing a 6% decline in turnover to £289.7m. Revenue in Australia also fell from £101m to £92m following a restructuring carried out by chief operating officer Andrew Darwin.

However the firm saw improved revenue in Asia, where turnover rose from £72.3m to £73.57m.

While the highest paid at DLA took home almost £2m, other firms to file accounts today reported more modest payouts. The highest LLP member at Stephenson Harwood took home £1.3m during the last financial year, while at Fieldfisher the payout was £1.24m.