"...and so we thought, given the volume of departures, it was a sensible innovation."
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has shed 20% of its UK-registered partners in under a year, a far higher percentage than its closest rivals. Or its furthest ones.
At first glance the statistics paint a picture of healthy growth. 131 BCLP partners were registered with Companies House coming into 2022, which rose to 159 after a handful of lateral hires and a raft of appointments in January bolstered the ranks. The firm's site shows 113 are based in London.
But behind the rosy headline figures there has been huge churn. 32 UK-registered partners have gone in the space of just over 12 months, representing 20% of the current UK-registered partnership.
A handful of the losses were the result of internal moves. Two partners are still partners, they just moved to Sydney. Two others became PSLs, and two who were in leadership positions - Neville Eisenberg in the UK and Roland Fabian in Germany - stepped down to advisory and Of Counsel roles respectively.
However, that doesn't account for the sizeable chunk bitten out of BCLP, which was created in 2018 when the UK's Berwin Leighton Paisner merged with US firm Bryan Cave.
Leavers have spread their wings for firms including DLA Piper (4), Ashurst (2), Mishcon de Reya (2), Addleshaw Goddard, DWF, Eversheds Sutherland, Fieldfisher, Fladgate, HFW, and a bevy of US firms including Kirkland & Ellis, Reed Smith, Greenberg Traurig, White & Case and Goodwin Procter.
The resulting 20% leave rate is significantly higher than other firms spot-tested by RollOnFriday. BCLP's so-called silver circle compatriots have lost a far smaller percentage of partners over the same timeframe.
Ashurst dropped 8%, Herbert Smith Freehills and Travers Smith 6%, and Macfarlanes just 4%, which isn't a huge surprise given it's a partner profit-generating unit of a firm.
In the wider market, too, BCLP is by far the lossiest firm. The vast majority lost a percentage in the low single figures - although by ROF's calculations, Squire Patton Boggs hit 10%.
In a statement BCLP said, "We have been through a period of strengthening our business. We are focused on strongly performing, strategically aligned teams core to our growth and high-performance culture".
"This is evidenced by a strong pipeline of more than 10 lateral partners in the UK alone", it said, adding that, "We also continue to invest in new talent, with 21 partner promotions taking effect this month – 7 of those in the UK".
The statement continued, "As we continue strengthening the BCLP platform for our clients around the globe, we are focused on building around ‘multipliers’ – partners who can leverage our platform with multi-office, multi-disciplinary practices – as we’ve done very successfully in Paris and Germany. We’ve seen tremendous growth in these markets, and we’re confident in our strategy and optimistic about the future as we drive toward renewed growth in the UK in the year ahead".
The strategy checks out: who needs five partners when one 'multiplier' can hare round Europe picking up tax, employment, real estate and M&A specialisms at the drop of a hat.
As well as the super-lawyer multipliers, a cadre of high quality BCLP senior associates have earned well-deserved seats at the partners' table. Whereas at many top-heavy firms senior solicitors grumble about chances of getting made up so small they require an electron microscope to detect, at BCLP, good candidates actually do have a chance of making it.
Whether they'll stay for very long is another matter, but the incoming RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2023 results should shed some light on exactly how people are feeling inside Bryan's leaky Cave.