Following a year of partner departures and a significant drop in profit per equity partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner’s limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts have revealed a 221% increase in bank borrowing in the 2012/13 financial year.
The 790-lawyer firm’s borrowing has risen to £45m from £14m the previous year.
However, in what appears to be a re-financing of debt, the top 20 firm has significantly reduced its overdraft facility, which is down from £4.5m to £371,000 and overall the firm owes £76m to creditors, compared to £51.3m the previous year.
The latest LLP accounts filed with Companies House show that in the last financial year, profits at the firm fell to £52.3m compared with £81m the previous year, a 32% drop.
The highest paid partner earned £1.2m, down from £1.6m the previous year, with overall fee income down from £245.9m to £231.9m.
Last year BLP revealed that its profit per equity partner figure was down by 39% from £660,000 to £401,000 and the firm also saw a number of partner departures, including private equity head Raymond McKeeve to Jones Day, tax head Liesl Fichardt, who left for Clifford Chance, and Managed Legal Services head Patrick Somers, who joined DLA Piper last September.
The firm was also one of a number of LB100 top 50 firms to complete a redundancy round last year, resulting in the loss of 102 jobs including 58 legal staff and 44 secretarial staff, achieving the aim of reducing salary costs by 15%.
However, in line with the predictions of a number of senior partners at the firm, including longstanding managing partner Neville Eisenberg, BLP’s half year results show some signs of recovery, posting a 6% increase in turnover compared to the same time last year.
The firm has also made a number of strategic hires to bolster its core real estate practice, including most recently a rated three partner real estate team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Moscow office.