By any estimation 2012/13 was Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) annus horribilis but the top 20 firm is showing modest signs of recovery with today’s (2 December) announcement that its revenues are up by 6% on this time last year.
Partners at the 786-lawyer firm have for some time privately indicated that its 2013/14 revenues are showing signs of improvement and the 6% rise, while starting from a low base given its 5% decline from £246m to £233m last year, is confirmation that their quiet confidence is, to an extent, justified.
BLP’s performance during the last financial year was hit by its rapid expansion overseas, particularly in the face of a declining transactional market. However, BLP’s managing partner Neville Eisenberg said: ‘We had a good first half and activity levels in the firm continue to be encouraging.
‘Over the first six months our offices outside London experienced strong growth. London also performed well with our litigation and real estate departments having a particularly busy six months.’
In September this year it emerged that BLP’s long-awaited profits per equity partner (PEP) had slumped by 39% and this 2013/14 half year (H1) figure – in common with the majority of H1s released by the LB100 firms so far – gives no indication as to whether the firm’s critical PEP figure is up or down on this time last year.
Overall the H1 2013/14 figures released so far have indicated a far more benign market than this time last year, with Allen & Overy’s turnover up by 7.5% to £608m thanks in large part to a strong performance in its litigation and, more surprisingly, its finance practices.
However, with a number of mid-tier players having recently turned out strong double digit H1 increases in turnover – including Olswang, which saw revenue up by 15% to £57.6m and Osborne Clarke up by 12% to €71.6m – BLP’s results are encouraging but will not be interpreted as meaning that the beleaguered firm has been given the all clear.