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Partner rewards rise as law firm Brodies performs strongly

THE highest-paid partner at Brodies, the Scottish law firm led by Bill Drummond, has seen their basic rewards rise from £359,000 to £375,000.

Audited accounts filed at Companies House for the 12 months to April 30 show the total amount the partner was paid is not yet available as performance related bonuses have not been signed off. The partner's identity was not disclosed in the accounts.

The entire sum the highest paid individual received in the 2012 financial year was said to be £623,000.

The accounts show the firm, one of the biggest in Scotland, performed in line with guidance given earlier this year.

Turnover grew 8% from £42.8 million to more than £46m, which was described as an "acceptable" increase given the "conflicting economic backdrop" for clients.

While all practice areas were said to be performing solidly corporate finance, banking and property were among those doing particularly well.

Profit before member remuneration and profit sharing went up from £17.6m to £19.1m.

There were 75 partners during the year, up from 70 last year.

Using those figures the average profit per partner came in at around £255,000, up from £251,000.

The accounts said: "The successful integration of partners from other organisations was sustained, with the addition of internal promotions helping to drive growth within the business."

Staff numbers were said to have been increased across the firm's offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. It also has a satellite operation in Brussels.

That was part of the reason for a 6% increase in operating costs from £25.15m to £26.8m with employee costs up from £15.7m to £16.6m.

Average staff numbers in the year grew from 476 to 505 although the firm is now thought to employ more than 530 people.

Brodies said investing in staff is part of a plan to position the firm well for an expected "stabilising of market conditions" in the coming years.

The firm has no external debt and its net cash position was maintained at more than £6.1m although that was down from almost £6.4m.

That strong financial position was described in the accounts as allowing management to continue looking at suitable investment opportunities.

In the financial report Brodies also signalled it does not expect the pace of change and number of mergers seen in recent years to slow down.

The accounts said: "The year just passed witnessed sweeping changes in the legal market in Scotland - be it mergers, takeovers or firms ceasing to trade.

"Change will continue and will present challenges and, more importantly, opportunities."

In the past 18 months a number of Scottish firms have undergone mergers with the largest being the tie-up between McGrigors and Pinsent Masons.

Semple Fraser has been the highest profile casualty in the sector although many of its former partners and lawyers have found work at other firms since it collapsed into administration in March.

In October Brodies gave a further indication of its confidence by announcing it was signing up to become the first tenant at the £51m office block at 110 Queen Street in Glasgow.

The 190-strong team covers a number of practice areas.

It is scheduled to relocate from its existing premises on Blythswood Square to 25,000 square feet across two floors of the new development in the second half of 2015.

Brodies opened its Glasgow office in 2006.

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