Law firm Hammonds yesterday announced a profits rebound as it sought to put a troubled two years behind it.
The firm, which has a major Birmingham office with 210 staff including 28 partners, said fee income had risen four per cent to £132.7 million.
Profit before tax came in 72 per cent up at £30.6 million and profits per equity partner j umped 61 per cent to £328,000.
Hailing the "turnaround", the firm said it had beaten its targets and was placing the empasis on growth.
The much improved figures are a contrast to last year when partners had to put their hands in their pockets to bail out the business.
Managing partner Peter Crossley admitted then that "serious mistakes" had been made.
The equity partners in the firm were told in February 2005 they would have to repay £3.5 million - about £37,000 each.
It followed a write-off of fees to the then Customs & Excise and coincided with a delayed audit, a string of partners quitting, 60 redundancies including 16 in Birmingham and the announcement of a strategic review.
Equity partners were prevailed on to accept a so-called lock-in where they agreed to stick with the firm - that runs out today.
Hammonds changed its auditors to PricewaterhouseCoopers and, after PwC completed an investigation into the books, it recommended changes to the 2003-04 draft accounts that left a net short-fall of £8.1 million.
That meant partners having to repay a further £86,170 ..TEXT: each. They were given five years to find the money.
Much of the problem was blamed on rapid expansion.
The firm has gone through a series of mergers in the UK and has established a string of European operations.
Hammonds went through two poor years of trading which in 2004/5 saw profits per partner fall 25 per cent to £204,000.
Yesterday Mr Crossley said there would be no extension to the lock-in.
He admitted the move could result in some resignations and retirements, but could not predict how many.
"I would be confident there will not be a significant number of resignations," he insisted.
There are now 95 equity partners.
Mr Crossley admitted the firm had been through a "challenging period".
But, he added, it had "come out the other side" and it was now a case of "onwards and upwards".
And he insisted partners were behind the new approach which emphasises growth.
"It is a new blueprint for the future - that is what the new strategy give us."
M r Crossley said the Birmingham office had done "very well" and had hit budget.
It had been involved in a number of key deals and played a major part in work for the Eurozone, with client Advantage West Midlands a significant generator for the Brussels office.
"The strategy for the Birmingham office is to continue to develop its client base across the whole of the West Midlands. It is a massive economic area. The Birmingham office is an important part of the firm overall."
The firm's main improvement was in the UK, with commercial and dispute resolution together with human capital puting in exceptional performances.
France and Germany also did well. The amount partners can draw from their earnings has been increased. And the firm has cut its borrowings by 38 per cent.
Finance director Laurence Campbell said he was confident the momentum would be maintained. The firm now had a focussed offer which was "clear and deliverable".
Hammonds has three offices in Italy, two in Germany, one each in Madrid, Paris, Brussels, and in the Far East, Hong Kong and Beijing.