BLP partner exits mount up as poor financials force firm to launch long-term strategy review

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has suffered two further partner exits this week as it embarks on a review of its strategy. 

Corporate finance partner Michael Weir and finance partner Richard Todd mark the most recent departures, joining Jones Day and Mayer Brown respectively. 

Weir follows Raymond McKeeve, BLP’s former global head of private equity, who left the firm in August to join Jones Day’s London office. 

It is understood that BLP management is conducting a ‘reshaping’ exercise as part of a wider review into the firm’s strategy following poor financial results in 2012-13, with partners citing a particular focus on the poor performance of the corporate and finance team.

According to sources within BLP, more partners will leave in the coming months, including at least three lateral hires in the finance team and  another private equity partner expected to part company with the firm next week.

One partner said: “We have to play to our strengths and, when you look at last year, it was clear what sectors we are good at – litigation and property. Corporate had too many underperforming people in it – if you are second best at something, it is difficult to compete in this market.”

Last month BLP confirmed its average profit per equity partner (PEP) figure for 2012-13 had dropped by nearly 40%. 

The firm has seen several partner departures in recent months. In September, commercial technology head Adam Rose joined Mishcon de Reya, while contentious tax chief Liesl Fichardt was hired by Clifford Chance. In March Patrick Somers left the firm’s corporate team for DLA Piper. 

Another source added: “A few of the big names haven’t integrated with the firm and are more like sole traders. BLP has changed a lot; we don’t want to bring in big laterals anymore, but instead want to focus on growing junior people within the firm.” 

In August BLP managing partner Neville Eisenberg defended his strategy of hiring from the magic circle and said there were no more plans for firmwide layoffs following a redundancy round that resulted in 102 job cuts earlier this summer.

A BLP spokesperson said: “While we are reviewing our strategy generally, this is not concentrated on any individual parts of the firm, nor is there any partner review focused on specific parts of the firm.”