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Financials 2022/23: HFW posts best-ever results

HFW has posted its best-ever financial results for the financial year 2022/23. After a slight dip of 1% to £198.7m in 2022, revenue climbed by more than 13% to £225.3m. Profit per equity partner and revenue per lawyer were up too: PEP rose by more than 17% to £786,000, while RPL hit £455,000.

In London revenue increased by 16%, accounting for about 40% of the firm’s total revenue. The most impressive increases around the world, meanwhile, were in the Middle East (32%) and Australia (24%).

Last year aside, these figures continue a strong upward trajectory for HFW, which has seen the firm grow its RPL almost 25% in four years, and its revenue more than 60% since 2015.

In conversation with Legal Business, the firm explained its success as the result of a strategy focused on broadening its international coverage and extending its offering in its core sectors of aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance, and shipping.

‘We’ve built up a good network’, said managing partner Jeremy Shebson (pictured). ‘We were building foundations, and now we’re looking to build on top of them.’

Senior partner Giles Kavanagh concurred. ‘We have a network of 20 offices around the world. The focus now is to build on the network, not to extend it further.’

That said, Kavanagh noted that the firm was not opposed to expanding into new areas ‘where there are good opportunities’. On this front, HFW recently received permission from China’s ministry of justice to open a representative office in Shenzhen. ‘It’s a very big commercial area’, explained Shebson. ‘The numbers are eye-watering, and the opportunities are considerable.’

In addition to the firm’s sector-focused international strategy, Shebson noted the importance of HFW’s strength in contentious work as a factor behind its continued growth in what he called a ‘difficult economic environment’. Results for 2023 showed the proportion of revenue generated by contentious matters held steady at around 70%.

Moving forwards, HFW intends to double down on its existing strengths. In Kavanagh’s words: ‘We are looking to attract laterals, teams, smaller law firms, and even something more ambitious than that.’

This approach has paid dividends over the last year: the firm reports ten lateral partner hires in 2022, and a further six in the first two months of this year.

As for that something more ambitious, Kavanagh was candid. ‘We’re open to discussions, not just with bolt-ons, but with larger-scale firms.’