Legal Business Blogs

Looking for answers: Field Fisher considers near-shoring as part of strategy review

After a turbulent year that has seen Field Fisher Waterhouse attempt a number of mergers and seen it unveil disappointing financial results, the firm is facing its issues head on, including looking at moving certain London support functions to Manchester as part of an ongoing strategy review initiated by managing partner Michael Chissick on his appointment in February this year.

If the move goes ahead, some non-legal roles such as IT and secretarial could be moved to Field Fisher’s seven-lawyer Manchester base in a bid to cut costs.

The shake-up is one of a number of options being discussed as part of a whole business review initiated by Chissick (pictured) earlier this year, which formed part of the basis of his appointment as managing partner.

As part of the same review, Field Fisher is set to introduce a new multi-million pound technology programme later this year, which will upgrade phone and communications systems and wifi networks.

The firm is also set to vote later this month on the proposed relocation of its London office to a larger, 80,000 sq ft three-floor office on a Thames-side site near London Bridge.

Chissick, formerly head of technology and outsourcing, succeeded managing partner Matthew Lohn in February, just a year after the firm overhauled its management structure following a 10-month governance review.

Lohn, who was voted in as managing partner in October 2011 after a contested vote, became senior partner in March this year; a role which was reintroduced after being abandoned in January 2012.

The move comes after a year that saw Field Fisher unsuccessfully attempt merger discussions with both Laurence Graham and Osborne Clarke and unveil a drop in both revenue and profit figures.

The firm posted a 2.5% drop in revenues to £95m, compared to £97.6m in 2012, while profit per equity partner has decreased by 7% on the figure published in the LB100 last year, from to £434,000 £402,000 – following a 16% drop in 2011/2012. Equity partner numbers are up slightly, from 41 to 46.

Field Fisher is the latest UK law firm to consider a ‘near-shoring’ base as a means to cut costs after Ashurst last month announced its intention to develop a 150-strong unit in Glasgow, headed by former Dundas & Wilson partner Michael Polson, which will cover back office support and volume legal work, initially document review in litigation and corporate.