Partner profit rises at Magic Circle law firm

Profits per equity partner (PEP) at “Magic Circle” law firm Clifford Chance rose to £933,000 last year, according to the firm’s accounts, after the firm cut more than 40 top end partners.

The amount of profits divided by the number of partners soared by 25 per cent from the previous year, when PEP came to £733,000, but the number of partners sharing the proceeds fell.

In 2009, Clifford Chance had an average of 413 partners in the top rung of its partnership, but that figure fell to 372 after it conducted a £53m restructuring of its business.

A spokesperson from the firm said that a 10 per cent reduction in costs and a 13 per cent rise in its overall profits contributed to the increased PEP.

Headcount across the firm’s entire partnership decreased from 637 to 562 after the huge overhaul. Overall staff numbers?– which include non-partners – fell by more than 800 to 6,309 through the year.

The redundancies meant Clifford Chance spent £536m on staffing costs in 2010, a fall of £41m on the £577m it paid in 2010.

Revenue for the year fell by five per cent to £1.19bn, putting it roughly in line with rival Allen & Overy, which saw its revenues fall by four per cent to £1.09bn.

Asia remained Clifford Chance’s strongest region, after turnover increased by 20 per cent to £125m.

The firm’s Americas practice saw a slight dip in turnover to £140m, compared to £143m a year earlier.

But Clifford Chance’s UK and Gulf business took the biggest hit, with revenue streams falling by £44m during the year to £456m.