Brexit: Berwin Leighton Paisner freezes pay

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has posted its second highest average profit per equity partner (PEP) ever at £683,000.

At the same time it has emerged the firm is freezing all lawyer and staff salaries amid the fallout from the Brexit vote in June.

Although PEP increase last year BLP has implemented a four-month pay freeze on its UK-based staff. The pay freeze has been put in place due to market uncertainty caused by the result of the EU referendum.

BLP’s usual salary review date is 1 July but this has been pushed back until 1 November 2016.

A BLP spokesperson said: “Following market uncertainties arising out of the recent EU referendum vote, BLP has decided that the responsible and prudent thing to do is to defer making UK salary decisions for a further four months. Employees who have been promoted will still receive related salary raises and bonuses referable to the prior financial year will also be paid.”

PEP increased by 3.6 per cent last year, from £659,000 to £683,000. The results signal a strong run at the firm after PEP plummeted by 38 per cent during the 2012/13 financial year. At the time BLP’s net profit fell by 38 per cent, from £63.6m to £39.4m. During the same year PEP fell from £660,000 to £401,000.

Since then PEP has continued to rise after increasing by 35 per cent to £542,000 in 2013/14.

BLP’s turnover fell by 1.9 per cent last year, from £259m to £254m. The firm’s net cash position now stands at £6m.

Managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: “These are a positive set of financial results. We’ve all worked hard to continue our upwards profitability trajectory, achieving our second highest PEP figure ever. We’re also particularly pleased to have ended another year with net positive cash. This is particularly impressive given the investments we’ve made, including Lawyer on Demand’s (LOD) acquisition of AdventBalance.”

Last year also saw BLP embark on a failed merger attempt with US giant Greenberg Traurig. The firm confirmed that it had entered into merger talks with Greenberg Traurig in February but by March talks had broken down.

At the time Mayhew told The Lawyer there was no single reason for ending the discussion and that both leadership teams were unable to “find enough common ground”.