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20% revenue growth at Stephenson Harwood sees turnover top £145m with PEP surging to £763,000

Stephenson Harwood has posted a 20% rise in revenues to £145m for the 2014/15 financial year, boosted by receipts from several multi-year matters the firm said that discounting those payments still saw it achieve an underlying growth rate of 16%.

The inclusion of matters which the firm says had substantial amounts of work done in previous years sees profits per equity partner (PEP) reach £763,000 for the financial year to 30 April – up 42% on last year’s £532,000. When stripping out the one-off mandates, the firm projects that PEP would have risen by 24% to £666,000 on turnover of around £140m.

The firm had been in good stead at the 2014/15 half year, at that point reporting revenues of £64m – a 12% increase in revenues compared with the same period last year. At the time, chief executive Sharon White put the turnover growth partly down to a strong performance in Dubai which was establishing in the region after its 2012 launch.

With turnover growth having accelerated from the half year, the firm said it had seen strong performances across its London, Greater China and Dubai offerings while its commercial litigation, corporate and real estate practices also saw particularly bouyant results.

Speaking to Legal Business, White put the growth down to a ‘combination of things, strengthening core areas of business like corporate and real estate, we had great people already but we have added there in size over the last five to six years and that’s played a part in the kind of mandates we are now winning. We have also had a lot of initiatives on client development, particularly a focus on more teamwork across the firm, across groups and across offices – that has played a large part in success. Working in teams and focusing on what clients want has helped us win work we weren’t in the past.’

White added: ‘Normally when you get a better economy you expect that a pick-up in transactional works and a slowdown on the contentious side but we haven’t seen that at all – our contentious practices have continued very strongly.’

The past 12 months saw the firm open an office in Seoul in a bid to boost its marine, international trade and ship-finance work. It hired DLA Piper’s local office head and litigation partner Michael Kim in February 2014 to oversee the management of the office. The firm also entered into an alliance in Guangzhou with local firm Wei Tu after having closed its office.