Legal Business Blogs

LLP latest – Bird & Bird and Eversheds pay cost of expansion and restructuring

The cost of Bird & Bird’s strategic investment in 2012/13 became apparent today (27 January) with the filing of its limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts, which show that its overdraft facility rose 55% to €21m from €13.6m in 2011/12, while net debt was up 20% from €22.6m to €27.1m during that period.

Turnover at the 966-lawyer firm was up 8% to €293,248 from €270,745 the previous year, while profit was down 7% from nearly €65m in 2012 to €60.2m this year.

The top 20 firm has been in expansion mode and, in addition to opening in Dubai and entering co-operation agreements in Sydney and Switzerland, in November 2012 merged with Denmark’s Bender von Haller Dragsted.

The firm also secured the hire of partner Sven-Michael Werner from rival firm Taylor Wessing to its China corporate practice in January.

This growth is reflected in the firm’s fee earner numbers, which rose by 10% to 856 from 773 in 2011/12.

Its highest paid equity partner took home €1,011,000 – only a marginal increase compared to the €1,008,000 paid the year before.

Meanwhile, the costs of the three year strategic plan unveiled by Eversheds in July 2012 has also become apparent, with the top 10 LB100 firm’s LLP accounts showing that its restructuring costs amounted to £4.8m, which includes its redundancy programme and office closures.

Provision for onerous leases was a further £3.7m and in a statement the firm said: ‘Restructuring costs were incurred following a detailed management and operation review in January 2013 to align the operations of the firm to the new three-year strategic plan and address certain parts of the business where current market activity makes existing structures unsustainable.

‘The costs incurred include the costs of closing the Copenhagen office and other redundancy costs. Provisions have also been made for the costs of leases on vacant or sublet properties.’

Group turnover increased nearly 3% from £366m to £376m in 2012/13.

Elsewhere, the average number of members and employees dropped from 2,761 to 2,734, with the number of legal advisers down from 1,482 to 1,455.

Eversheds was one of a number firms to announce job losses last year, confirming in May 2013 that 116 staff would be made redundant across the firm after a consultation that placed 166 jobs at risk, including 82 fee earners. This was the UK law firm’s sixth redundancy round since 2007.

Meanwhile, the estimated entitlement for the highest paid member for the 2012/13 year stood at £1.2m compared to £1.15m in 2011/12.

The firm’s defined contribution pension scheme, which is closed to new entrants, had a deficit of £772,000 as of 30 April 2013, up from £403,000 in 2012.