Top earners at Norton Rose Fulbright and Dentons receive double digit pay cuts

Top earners at Norton Rose Fulbright and Dentons have seen their pay drop by double-digit percentage figures for the 2016-17 financial year.

The highest-paid Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) member at Norton Rose Fulbright earned £1.4m, down 13% from £1.6m the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

The LLP accounts cover Norton Rose Fulbright’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The key management team saw their combined pay fall 13% from £5.9m to £5.2m.

Fee income in the UK grew during the year from £244.1m to £252.4m. The firm also saw revenue increases in Europe, from £112.5m to £118.3m, however the same figure fell for the rest of the world from £78.3m to £77.9m.

The firm’s debt owed in the coming financial year grew from £137.9m to £142.9m.

This came as staff numbers at the firm fell from 2,223 to 2,203, owing to a fall in the number of fee earners – from 1,094 to 1,085 – and a decrease in business services staff from 1,129 to 1,118. Nonetheless staff costs increased from £197.2m to £213.2m, including a 7% increase in wage costs from £177.4m to £189.3m.

Meanwhile, Dentons’ top earner saw pay fall 15% in the 2016-17 financial year. The firm’s highest paid partner received £1.1m, down from £1.3m.

The management team also received a pay cut, with their combined income dropping 9% from £4.3m to £3.9m.

Staff numbers at the firm increased 3% from 899 to 929. This rise consisted of a small increase in fee earners, from 435 to 484, alongside a reduction in administrative and support staff from 464 to 445.

Total staff costs rose 8% to £84.9m from £78.6m the previous year. This included a 6% hike in staff wages from £54.5m to £57.6m, alongside a 7% rise in general staff costs – including social security costs – from £78.6m to £84.9m.

The average number of LLP members at the firm rose from 124 to 129.

The firm’s turnover rose modestly from £169.2mm to £170.3m, alongside a small operating profit increase from £47.2m to £48.2m.

Since the start of the 2017-18 financial year, both Norton Rose Fulbright and Dentons have secured merger deals, with Dentons combining with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens in October last year. The Scottish firm’s brand disappeared on completion of the tie-up. Maclays has 62 partners and almost 200 other fee earners.

Norton Rose Fulbright merged with Manhattan-based Chadbourne & Parke in June last year, ending Chadbourne’s 115-year run as an independent firm.

The combined firm, which operates internationally as Norton Rose Fulbright, has about 4,000 lawyers in 58 offices and 32 countries, generating up to $2bn in annual revenues.