Legal Business Blogs

Hill Dickinson to review its business to maintain profitability

Unusually for a firm that has averaged 10% growth over the last five years and posted a 22% leap in profit per lawyer in 2011/12, national firm Hill Dickinson has announced a review of its UK business today (30 April), which could lead to redundancies.

The firm, which employs more than 1,400 people including 190 partners, confirmed it would be reviewing its range of services and geographical reach, which it anticipates will lead to the restructuring of a number of unspecified teams.

Senior partner David Wareing said the that turnover for the last financial year should be roughly flat or slightly up on the 2011-12 figure of £110m, with some areas of the business recording growth while others contract.

The firm posted significant net income growth last year, with profit per lawyer increasing by 22% to £39,000 despite total lawyer numbers increasing 8%. However, these are profit levels that the firm is keen to sustain.

‘It is vital that through this review we also ensure appropriate profit levels are maintained, to facilitate our ability to further invest in the business for the future,’ said Wareing.’

He told Legal Business: ‘Market conditions have undoubtedly affected our top line position. If you start to break it down, there has been record level of turnover growth in some areas but there are also others that aren’t working. It’s about assessing whether or not the extent of resources in certain areas are right or whether it needs to be scaled back.’

Wareing added that the firm, which has offices in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and Sheffield along with two international offices in Greece and Singapore, will continue to look to invest and expand in the UK and abroad ‘in line with current and anticipated areas of growth’. For example, the firm added the majority of DLA Piper’s defendant insurance team in Sheffield and Manchester earlier in the year. However, Wareing pointed out that the current restructuring needs to take place first before the firm would be able to talk about further expansion.

The North – where Hill Dickinson has four offices – would be an obvious area for the firm to look to consolidate geographically and Wareing said the firm would be looking at whether there is duplication of service lines across those offices.

However, redundancies will be a last resort. ‘In the recent past we have been involved in acquisitions which have secured jobs particularly in Liverpool and Sheffield and security of employment will remain a priority wherever possible.’

The firm recorded 10% revenue rise for the 2011-12 financial year, boosting turnover to £110.1m from £100.1m in its full year of trading since it acquired Halliwells former offices in Liverpool and Sheffield.