Despite predictions of tough conditions for mid-tier firms, West End firm Forsters has bucked the trend and announced its fee income grew by 11.3% in 2015/16 to £46.2m, constituting its sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth since 2011.
The firm attributed the growth to its real estate and private wealth practices. Forsters real estate practice posted a 14% increase in fee income due to burgeoning activity in the property market. Increased work flow came from property funds including the British Airways Pension Fund, Aberdeen Asset Management, Rockspring and Savills Investment, and property owners Knight Dragon, Moorfield Group, McDonald’s and The Crown Estate. New instructions were won from LaSalle Investment Management and Qatari Diar.
Meanwhile, the firm’s private wealth business saw fee income rise by over 20% with highlight mandates including advising on Greybull Capital’s purchase of Tata Steel’s long products business and advising Knight Dragon on securing the largest residential planning application ever seen in London for a development at North Greenwich.
It has been a year of highs and lows for the firm however, which had to defend itself against a £70m professional negligence claim filed by businessman Rupert Galliers-Pratt last October. He alleged the firm failed to execute a deal for three oil blocks in Russia.
Forsters managing partner Paul Roberts said: ‘Our strategy of focussing on real estate and private wealth has been central to sustained and consistent growth since 2011. The strength and reputation of these practices helps us support a fantastic client base and enables us to compete for and win significant new clients in these markets.’
In keeping with the trend for UK firms to announce good financials early, Bristol-based LB100 firm TLT revealed its turnover for 2015/16 last week, improving on its strong financial performance of recent years to post a 15% increase in turnover to £71.6m.
The results follow a legal benchmarking report by NatWest in April, which looked at the performance of law firms operating in the SME space. The report forecast those firms with revenue below £46m should expect tougher conditions in 2016 despite generating a 6% increase in average fee income last year.