After something of a revival in 2014/15, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) went into reverse last year as revenue dropped 2% to £254m.
Revenue fell by £5.2m in 2015/16 as the chasing pack of City firms behind the Magic Circle suffered a slowdown. However, profit per equity partner (PEP) withheld the fall in revenue to hit £687,000. This is a 4% increase on 2014/15, when PEP stood at £661,000, and equates to a £26,000 increase in take home pay per partner.
BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew told Legal Business: ‘We’re happy. It’s our second highest PEP achievement ever and to end the second year in a row with cash in the bank was particularly pleasing. We would rather that was different but in the environment we were operating in, and with the investments we’ve made, we were pretty pleased with revenue as well.’
Mayhew (pictured) added that costs associated with the merger between freelance lawyer service LOD, which it majority owns, and Australasian counterpart AdventBalance ‘run into the millions of pounds’ so made the rise in profitability ‘even more pleasing’.
BLP, which came close to merging with Miami legal giant Greenberg Traurig earlier this year in a deal that would have made BLP part of a £1bn firm, was impacted by the slowdown in the corporate and banking work in London at the end of 2015. Mayhew said that these practices ‘not being at their most buoyant had an impact’ and argued that the merger talks had not played a part in the firm’s poor performance. ‘I have thought about that but even though there were a large number of partners that were involved in the latter stage of that discussion, I still don’t think it had an impact on revenue or caused a major distraction as for a long while we were tight on the number of people that were involved in the conversation until the end. And from when we announced it, until we announced it was off [in March], it was only a few short, sharp weeks.’
In terms of green shoots, Mayhew said that real estate ‘had a cracking year’ and experienced strong growth in London and Germany, where the group ‘beat its budget by a material margin’.