Bird & Bird‘s profit per equity partner (PEP) has risen for a second consecutive year, leaping 11% to £503,000, in line with the firm’s revenue growth, following a double-digit rise in corporate, intellectual property and employment work.
The technology and intellectual property-focused City firm’s net income rose to £52.8m over the year from £45.4m the previous year.
Since returning to growth in 2015/16, the firm’s PEP has increased 10.9% from £448,000. The growth coninuted even after the firm invested around £15m (€17m) on its new 12 Fetter Lane headquarters.
Bird & Bird’s top equity partner earned £905,000 this year.
In contrast, however, PEP grew by only 1% in 2015/16, from £448k to £454k. Turnover was then £273.8m, up 6% from 2014/15. Reported revenue for 2016/17 was £303.2m, up 11% from last year’s £273.8m.
On a five-year view, Bird & Bird’s profitability this year remained at 2.7% below its 2011/12 levels, five years ago, when PEP stood at £517,000. Turnover, meanwhile, increased to £303.2m over the same five year period.
CEO David Kerr told Legal Business: ‘We get involved in complicated technology matters other firms struggle with.’ ‘I am very pleased with our performance given that other firms were struggling while we were not. Our focus on technology has proven successful.’
Over the year, the firm advised Nokia on its patent dispute with Apple, which settled in May, and Capgemini’s divestment of its IBX Business Network to Tradeshift, which created the world’s largest business commerce platform. It also acted on ARM’s £10m investment in Blu Wireless Technology to help it accelerate the rollout of 5G networks.
The firm also completed 26 lateral hires in the financial year and promoted 16 lawyers to partnership, bringing the total number of partners to 291 across its 28 offices in Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.
‘We have a very clear vision and a very clear mission. Partners seek us out and want to join us specifically for our focus on technology and our strategy. That makes it much easier for them to integrate: it is not just partners wanting to change firm, they know our strategy, they know what firm they are joining,’ Kerr said.
Lawyer numbers rose slightly from 1,084 to 1,141.
On the regulatory side, Bird & Bird also advised the European Commission and UK government on changes to data protection regulation, the UK government on the investigatory powers bill, and the European Commission on the effectiveness of EU rules on state aid for research, development and innovation.
The firm said this demonstrated it was helping ‘set the legislative agenda in the areas where we operate’.