DWF, suffering a second year of lacklustre performance, is the latest law firm to report evidence of difficulties for those with large insurance practices as it posts financial results showing a 1% rise in revenue and a 16% drop in profit per equity partner (PEP).
Turnover at the firm, which recently relocated its London office to the Walkie Talkie, increased by just 1% from £189m to £191m. That result, which comes after revenues also flatlined last year, was supported by a rise in corporate and banking which grew by 3% to provide £33m in fees, an amount equalled by its real estate practice which grew by 1%.
However, profits were hit as the firm continued to expand including launching its first overseas office in Dubai and hiring 24 new partners, though its equity partnership actually fell from 71 to 65. Net income for the 2014/15 financial year came in at £21m giving the firm a PEP figure of £325,000 – down 16% on last year’s £387,000 which was itself down 11% on 2012/13.
The firm also said it had refinanced loans and put in place a £45m facility provided by five lenders.
DWF’s managing partner and CEO, Andrew Leaitherland (pictured), said: ‘Our financial performance last year reflects the significant strategic investments needed to align our operating model with our strategy as set out in our strategic vision. Our focus has very much been on integration of our people as well as consolidation following our mergers and acquisitions and our resource base is now set at an appropriate level to allow us to deliver our targeted revenue grow this year. ‘
Leaitherland added: ‘We know it takes time to see the returns and it’s a good indicator of our business that we’ve continued to grow despite these investments, and also operating within markets such as insurance where our clients are experiencing challenges to which we’ve responded.’
In March this year, the firm launched in Dubai using a team of four-lawyers including a construction partner hired from Holland & Knight to establish the outpost. Meanwhile, since the end of the financial year, the 1134-lawyer firm has overhauled its business model looking to build a more flexible offering for clients. This included creating a centralised paralegal service, a contract-lawyer offering and a consultancy. It also launched subsidiary, 15squared, to gain a foothold in the legal product market.