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Rich rewards on offer – Fieldfisher accounts show top earnings soar over £2m as profits surge

It has become established in recent years as one of the most potent performers in the UK top 50 but recent accounts illustrate just how much that means for a select few partners at Fieldfisher. Most strikingly, on the back of a year of substantial financial and geographic growth, Fieldfisher’s top-earning partner took home over £2m for the period, a 70% increase on the previous figure.

According to the filings with Companies House, Fieldfisher’s highest-paid partner earned £2.03m for the 2016/17 financial year, a £837,000 increase on the previous year’s tally of £1.19m.

Fieldfisher’s partnership earnings currently range between £230,000 and £2.03m, though the majority of equity partners earn between £300,000 and £800,000, with allocations being reviewed on an annual basis. Discussing the firm’s model in Legal Business’ latest cover feature, managing partner Michael Chissick (pictured, right, with senior partner Matthew Lohn) said: ‘It’s merit-based, not eat-what-you-kill. If a partner has a tough time, we support that partner.’

The accounts also show that key management personnel, defined as Fieldfisher’s executive committee and supervisory board, received £11.7m for the year, up 20% from £9.8m for 2015/16.

The LLP filing, published in late December, also showed that the total number of staff at the top 50 UK law firm increased from 597 to 647, with staff costs increasing from £35.6m to £42.5m accordingly. This included 360 fee earners. Operating profit also saw a sharp increase of 35%, from £51.5m to £69.9m. The firm generated revenues of £145.7m, up from last year’s reported figure of £123m. Fieldfisher’s total announced income for 2016/17 was higher at £165m thanks to several foreign businesses falling outside the LLP structure.

Fieldfisher has been in expansive form in recent years, adding a host of international members to its verein. This includes the firm’s Italian presence, which expanded to five offices with a new Bologna outpost opened in July 2017.

The firm also added a five-partner Amsterdam branch to its verein in February 2017, after hiring a team from local TMT specialist Kennedy Van der Laan.

According to other recent LLP filings, the 13-strong executive leadership team at Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance (CC) took home £16m for the financial year. Geographical revenue breakdown showed revenue was up in all areas for CC, with Asia Pacific seeing the greatest growth, rising 23% from £224m to £276m.

For more on how firms like Fieldfisher have outpaced larger City rivals see Legal Business’ latest cover feature, Reversal of fortunes (£)