Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has revealed 3% revenue growth for the 2016/17 financial year, alongside an 8% jump in profit per equity partner (PEP) in its second full year since the merger of Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham in 2014.
CRS managing partner James Carter said last year was one of consolidation for the merged firm, while dealing with costs associated with several office openings against the backdrop of a largely flat UK market.
In light of these investments, CRS posted a modest revenue growth from £140m in 2015/16 to £144m in 2016/17. PEP, however, jumped from £393k to £426k over the last financial year.
Net profit rose 6% from £31.8m to £33.8m as the firm announced two new office openings in 2017, one in Dubai for July and a scheduledHong Kong launch in September.
Carter told Legal Business that: ‘Last year was always going to be an exceptional growth in profitability simply because of the timeline of the merger. In the first year, you have costs related to the merger, and in the second year you start to see the benefits.’
‘I also suspect, unlike a number of firms of our size, we have relatively little overseas income, so we enjoyed little benefit from the weaker pound,’ he added.
He said moderate growth was mainly attributable to its litigation and tax practices, highlighting a rise in tax work from rules which came into force in April relating to the tax benefits and status of those with permanent domicile outside the UK.
The firm opened its Dubai office on 10 July with the hire of King & Wood Mallesons disputes partner Ghassan El Daye and Jonathan Brown from UAE law firm Hadef & Partners, alongside its existing bases of Doha in Qatar and Manama in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the firm’s Hong Kong base is currently operating from a temporary office and will officially open its doors in September. For its first Asian office in Hong Kong, the firm hired Mayer Brown JSM partner Jonathan Mok to head up the practice, alongside partner Richard Grasby from Cayman Islands-headquartered Maples and Calder.
The firm has 11 hubs across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, and 165 partners and 507 lawyers. They work across charities, construction and infrastructure, energy, financial services, healthcare, private wealth, real estate, retail and leisure, sport and technology, media and communications.
Managing partner Carter and senior partner Christopher Page were this year re-elected to the CRS management team for another three years. Carter and Page began their second three-year term in May after the pair ran unopposed in the firm’s elections.