Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has become the latest major UK law firm to announce job cuts as firms increasingly examine their business models in light of a sustained slump in market activity.
The top-20 City firm announced today that is has entered a redundancy consultation affecting around 58 legal staff, 44 secretarial staff and some business services staff, with a target reduction in salary of 15% in the latter group.
Last year the firm’s profit per equity partner dropped by 5% to £660,000 and BLP fell three places in the LB100 to 17, despite seeing a revenue increase of 11% to £246m.
In early 2012 BLP made a handful of high profile lateral hires including corporate M&A heavyweights David Barnes and Alan Paul from Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O) respectively. Elsewhere A&O partners Nomita Nair and Kyle Davies joined in Singapore and Moscow, and Mark Chan joined BLP’s Hong Kong office from O’Melveny & Myers as the firm boosted its international offering.
However, in more recent months the firm has focussed on consolidation, with the exception of hires such as Norton Rose corporate lawyer Julian Stanier in September 2012.
Neville Eisenberg, who was last year elected for a fifth term as managing partner, said: ‘As announced last year, we have been in a period of integration and consolidation after a number of years of high growth and investment. The decision to review a number of roles across our London office is part of a general review of our business to ensure that we are well positioned for the future.’
The firm completed a previous redundancy round in May 2009 – a year when many City law firms cut their numbers in response to the financial crisis – when it let 85 staff go, affecting corporate, finance, real estate and support functions.
This year, firms including Eversheds, Clyde & Co and Olswang announced redundancy programmes as the UK economy only narrowly avoided falling into a triple dip recession in 2013.
In January Eversheds announced a redundancy consultation affecting 166 staff as the firm restructured it UK real estate and company commercial practices and closed its Copenhagen office. It was the firm’s sixth redundancy round since September 2008.