LLP filing reveals £2.9m payout for best-paid Freshfields partner

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s top-earning partner took home £2.9m last year, according to the firm’s newly filed limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts.

The figure, which came amid 2011-12 profits of £329m, was received by a retiring partner and is 16% higher than the £2.5m sum the firm’s top earner took home the previous financial year.

The recent figures are down on the high point of 2008-09, when the magic circle firm’s highest-earning member received £3.3m.

The LLP accounts also show that Freshfields’ staff costs grew by more than 10% during 2011-12, up from £480.4m to £529.6m. Around £15.2m of this increase can be attributed to movements in provisions for non-member annuities, as well as the related costs of growing fee earner headcount by 54.

The filing shows that revenues at the firm grew from £1.116bn to £1.177bn in 2012, an increase of more than 5% and a substantial uplift on the figure of £1.139bn initially announced by the magic circle firm in July.

The total of £1.177bn is still marginally below the figure of £1.183bn posted by Allen & Overy, which last year passed Freshfields to place third in the UK top 50 rankings by revenue. However, Freshfields still boasts the highest profits per equity partner figure of the UK’s four largest firms at £1.299m.

Cash and cash equivalents also dropped by more than 60%, falling to £35.5m at 30 April 2012, from £89m at the same point a year ago. A spokesperson for the firm said cash balances had reduced as a result of “significant investment in capital assets during the year”.

“This includes the substantial refurbishment of the London office together with investment in new technology. The firm prefers to finance such investments from its own resources and remains without borrowing at the year end.”

In the audited report, the firm said its financial performance is “considered satisfactory given the volatile and uncertain market conditions”.