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By Ana De Liz 19 August 2019

White & Case’s UK and Africa staff numbers went down by 2 per cent over 2018, its accounts have revealed, after a six-year period of rapid growth across both jurisdictions.

Over 2018, the firm’s employee headcount dropped from 633 to 619, with a fall in both fee-earner and non fee-earner numbers. The average number of members, however, increased from 139 to 148.

This is the first noticeable drop for White & Case’s staff numbers since 2012 when figures fell from 431 to 400. In the years that followed, White & Case has pressed ahead with expansion, increasing its headcount from 479 to 600 over 2015 alone. It restated its figures for 2016 in which headcount was shown to have gone down by one to 599.

The accounts also revealed that the US firm’s turnover in the UK and Africa fell by £5.3m to £259.4m, while its operating profit went down 11 per cent from £127.7m to £114.8m over 2018. Turnover in its Johannesburg’s office dropped by 40 per cent from £4.7m to £2.8m.

Alongside the headcount drop, wages and salaries decreased marginally over 2018 from £56.5m to 56.4m.

White & Case has been very active in the lateral hire market, hiring from Taylor WessingKirkland & Ellis and Weil Gotshal & Manges in financial services, banking and capital markets last year.

The firm has also lost three partners to Baker McKenzie so far this year, while corporate partner Gavin Weir joined Akin Gump and Alison Weal became a partner at Winston & Strawn.