Legal Business Blogs

Financials 2013/14: Bristows records 4% revenue drop alongside 17% PEP slide as Withers enjoys revenue boost

London stalwart Bristows has revealed disappointing results for the 2013/14 financial year, as revenue has decreased nearly 4% to £34.1m while profit per equity partner (PEP) suffered a steep 17% drop to £364,000. Private client-focused Withers, meanwhile, saw revenue grow 4.7% to £123.3m from £117.8m as well as a 3.6% PEP boost to £376,000.

The 33-equity partner firm Bristows has recorded starkly different results to last year, in which revenue and PEP both rose 8% to £35.4m and £170,000 respectively, although profit per lawyer took a 3% dip to £110,000.

The technology and IP specialist firm has been credited in recent years for being a well-managed firm with a tight sector and practice focus. Despite having dropped out of the LB100 in 2008 due to falling revenues, it was perceived to have returned from a position of perceived weakness to something of a revival post-crisis. Even more envied was its 2012 figures which revealed ground-breaking results, as the firm’s top line swelled by 27% to £32.9m, while net income leapt 53% to £13.8m – by far the highest organic profit increase in the LB100 that year.

Despite the poor performance, the firm has been making selective lateral hires in recent months, including Wragge & Co’s head of EU, competition and regulation Rosemary Choueka, who departed the Midlands giant for Bristows’ competition team in January, while the firm announced the hire of HowardKennedyFsi corporate partner Louise Eldridge in June.

Major work highlights saw the firm’s patent litigation group, led by heavyweight Myles Jelf, successfully fight a case for claimant IPCom in a high profile patent dispute against HTC.

Withers, meanwhile, saw its net profit drop marginally from £22.5m from £22.4m. Last year the firm recorded mixed results with a 4% revenue increase against a 10% drop in profit per lawyer to £65,000 and a 5% decrease in PEP to £363,000.

The firm last year abandoned merger talks with Speechly Bircham, which has since merged with Charles Russell, after suggestions of a lack of support from the partnerships.

Withers also faced a professional negligence dispute this year, with the High Court ordering the firm in March to pay £1.6m in damages after upholding claims that alleged the misdrafting of a limited liability partnership agreement.