Legal Business Blogs

H1 2015/16: Watson Farley points to lateral hires as revenues grow 5%

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) said its investment in lateral hires has seen revenues improve as the firm posted 5% growth in half-year revenues for the period to October 31. WFW posted global turnover at £59.5m, and said on a currency by currency basis, its turnover is up 7%.

WFW co-managing partner Lothar Wegener said the firm’s investment in 24 new partners in the past 18 months as lateral hires and a new office in Dubai has encouraged stronger returns.

Wegener told Legal Business the firm was on track for about 10% revenue growth for the the full year, citing a ‘general uplift in the pipeline’.

‘We feel we are in quite a position to achieve that but it depends on the exchange rate as a third of our business is in the Eurozone, while we report in sterling.’

The best performing office in terms of percentage growth was Madrid, Wegener said, which turned over more in the first half of 2015-16 than it did in the whole of last year. The outpost, which has seven partners and 30 staff, fared better as the Spanish economy and investment in energy improved.

The firm hired Clyde & Co corporate partner Nigel Taylor in October, and picked up Fried Frank duo Sian Withey and Robert McBride in May this year to establish the firm’s debt securities practice.

The Dubai office is WFW’s 14th office, opened last year following increased client demand in the Middle East, particularly the UAE. Finance partner Andrew Baird relocated from London to head up the new office, along with two associates.

Co-managing partner Chris Lowe added: ‘This is another encouraging financial result for the firm. On a currency by currency basis we are more than 7% ahead of last year, and our lawyers are seeing a good level of client demand across our core sectors. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we expect that to continue throughout the rest of the financial year, so this result gives us a strong position to build upon.’

The steady lift in turnover follows a strong full year revenue performance announced in July, as turnover was up 7% from £117m to £125m. The firm broke through the £100m revenue barrier in 2012/13, reporting an increase of 2% to £102.1m.

The firm’s release of its half year results follows those of Nabarro, Allen & Overy, Osborne Clarke and Fieldfisher.