Reed Smith has added a shipping partner to its City base with the hire of the latest partner to exit legacy firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. Jeb Clulow joined Reed Smith’s London office this Tuesday (1 November) – the same day that Barlows’ merger with Clyde & Co went live – along with senior associate Lyall Hickson. Clulow, who was a partner in Barlows’ marine energy and trade group, specialises in shipping and trade disputes. He was made up to partner in the firm’s May 2009 promotions round and has worked with clients including Steamship Mutual, UK Club and Swedish Club.
Two thirds of firms in the UK top 50 have seen profits per equity partner (PEP) fall over the past five years, according to research compiled by Legal Week. The figures show that only 16 firms in the top 50 have increased PEP since the 2007-08 financial year, compared with more than 30 that have seen profits slide. More than 20 firms have seen PEP fall by over 10% in the five-year period since the height of the credit crunch, with Field Fisher Waterhouse, Speechly Bircham and Trowers & Hamlins all seeing partner profits tumble by more than 40%.
Cast your mind back five years ago to what seems like a different era. Clyde & Co was generating not much more than half its current revenues and Holman Fenwick Willan barely scraped into the top 40 while Ince & Co just about made the top 50. Kennedys was nowhere to be seen. Corporate markets were booming, and transaction-driven law firms were really just getting into the swing of the credit boom. Little wonder that insurance-driven law firms were overlooked as the script for global law was written – the sector was associated with nothing more glamourous than brutally executed panel reviews and misconceived cross-selling (Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s lost years and Davies Arnold Cooper’s ‘pillars of strength’ spring to mind). Apart from the startling growth Clydes was already demonstrating, powered by global expansion and a strategy that largely went over the heads of journalists such as, well, me, there was little sign of the breed’s future ascendency. Step forward, and it’s a very different story, with insurance and transport law firms now having led the pack consistently since the credit crunch hit four years ago.
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