Staff at law firm Brodies share £1m bonus pot as partner payout pegged

Staff at Brodies, which says it is the largest law firm headquartered in Scotland measured by, say, income and lawyer numbers, have each been awarded a £1,500 bonus after it saw revenue and profits edge up as clients increasingly sought help to navigate the pandemic.

Profit per equity partner for the 2020/21 financial year was just under £680,000, with payouts unchanged from the previous 12 months after the firm said it decided to ensure employees benefited from the recovery seen in activity levels during the year.

All staff at the firm, which has seen numbers rise to 784 in recent weeks, received the same bonus but equity partners weren’t included in the payout.

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Although most staff continue to work remotely, managing partner Nick Scott said he anticipates that they will eventually return to spending a “majority” of their time in the office depending on role and workload.

Brodies managing partner Nick Scott said the firm was able to weather the pandemic without seeking help from lenders or the UK government. Picture: contributed.

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The practice saw revenue edge up by £500,000 to £82.5 million in the year to April 30, with operating profit increasing by a similar amount to £39m.

Mr Scott said the firm’s strong financial position going into the pandemic meant it hadn’t needed to access funds from partners, lenders or the UK government’s Covid-19 support schemes. Cash balances also grew to £30.7m from £25.4m after a good performance on collection of fees from clients.

Mr Scott said that from the outset of the pandemic the firm had been determined not to use staff as a “firebreak”, adding: “We said we would stand by the jobs and salaries of everyone in the firm, but recognised there could be quite a cost to the firm’s partners from that decision.”

In the event, he said activity levels recovered strongly and profits achieved over original projections went to staff instead of partners.

"The early part of the financial year saw clients assessing what the pandemic meant for their businesses, their organisations and their lives. And while some activity paused, clients quickly got on with addressing the pandemic's impact and, from there, to working out how they would operate and live after the pandemic. This saw them continue to trust us with their instructions,” said Mr Scott.

Positive

Continuing strong demand in practice areas such as mergers and acquisitions, litigation, property, and private client work have contributed to a positive first quarter of the new financial year.

With restrictions continuing to ease, Mr Scott said the firm – which will move into new headquarters in Edinburgh in November – would soon start talking to staff about future working patterns.

He expects that most of the workforce will want to take advantage of the flexibility the pandemic has shown the firm can operate with, but stressed individual working patterns will depend on the needs of particular teams and clients across the business.

Mr Scott believes that over the course of a year people will spend the “majority” of their time in an office, although “that may be 51 per cent of the time, or it may be 75 per cent ”.

He added: “I think between factors such as client needs, camaraderie, training and development needs and the fact our offices are very nice places to work from, people will want to spend the majority of their time in the office, but it won’t be the same pattern every week.”

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