Legal Business Blogs

Pre-float DWF aims to sustain momentum with exclusive US alliance with 56-partner LA firm

DWF’s recent eye for international expansion has been extended to the US through an exclusive association with Los Angeles-based Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman (WSHB).

WSHB is much smaller than DWF, with revenue of just $81m and 56 partners across 22 offices in the US, but DWF managing partner and chief executive Andrew Leaitherland says the firms have a number of mutual clients, particularly international insurance businesses.

‘This is a significant move for us which greatly expands our reach in the US,’ he commented. ‘In particular, we both have strong insurance practices and already support some of the world’s largest insurers.’

The top 25 UK law firm added 18% to its top line in the year to 30 April, for revenue of £236m. It did not disclose profit per equity partner (PEP) but this year’s LB100 estimates it rose 9% to £327,000.

In June, DWF confirmed it was considering what would become the largest UK law firm initial public offering (IPO) yet. Its recent history has been marked by a spate of office openings in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, as well as the acquisitions of legal cost business NeoLaw last June and claims management firm Triton Global.

Leaitherland said DWF had been working on its US growth strategy for some time: ‘We have opened offices or sought association partners where it makes sense strategically and where our clients operate and tell us they need our support.’

Alongside WSHB’s insurance business, the firm provides services in construction, real estate, professional liability, commercial and employment law. It was founded in 1997.

WSHB co-founder and chairman Daniel Berman said the DWF partnership would allow the firm to tap into DWF’s international network and access its Connected Services business: a division of independent businesses which help clients manage risk, reputation, cost, time and resources.

‘Our national platform now provides legal services in almost every state and in the past several years we have recorded double-digit growth of both revenue and lawyers,’ he commented. ‘This will allow us to provide our clients with multidisciplinary teams across different professional and business services in an integrated way.’