Legal Business Blogs

Stephenson Harwood blames transition for underwhelming results as Stevens & Bolton celebrates twelfth year of growth

Stephenson Harwood has reported flat financials for financial year 2021/22, after a correction to last year’s results.

Revenue remained at £206m with profit per equity partner (PEP) of £685,000. This would have amounted to a drop in revenue from £209m first reported for financial year 2020/21, had the firm not adjusted last year’s financials after it settled claim regarding £3m of unpaid fees between announcing and closing its accounts. This adjustment marks a 3% drop in revenue and 6% dip in PEP from 2020.

The firm attributed the static results to a transitional period and change of strategy, said chief executive Eifion Morris (pictured): ‘This was always going to be a period of change for the firm, irrespective of Covid. I took over in October 2019 and in the last year we launched our new strategy, which went live in May. It’s a very different strategy than we had before. While one part is that we are going to maintain the 50/50 split of litigation and transactional work, which is quite unusual for a firm of our size, we have also identified five areas of sectoral focus for the firm.’

Going forward the firm intends to double-down on the decarbonisation, life sciences, private capital and funds, technology, and transportation and trade sectors. The firm is particularly optimistic about its expertise in the decarbonisation and private capital spaces, with recent work including advising Jericho Energy Ventures on its equity investment into hydrogen technology company Supercritical Solutions and on the proposed merger of property trusts LXi REIT and Secure Income REIT.

Morris has an optimistic outlook for the coming year, as it beds in the new approach: ‘I’m very excited about the new strategy and I think we’re going to grow from here. We’re looking at revitalising our key client program, which will be based on clients within our areas of focus and the goal is to be working with clients across as many practice areas and offices as possible.’

Elsewhere, LB100 firm Stevens & Bolton has reported significant double-digit growth across the board. The independent UK firm saw a 24% revenue hike to £36.1m, while net profit reached £14m, up 22% from last year. It has reported equally auspicious PEP with an increase of 36% to £346,000.

Now in its 12th year of consecutive growth, the firm credits its commercial litigation and financial restructuring and insolvency practices for its strong year, as well as an increase in international client work, which made up more than 20% of revenue.

Following its success, the firm boosted median pay by 11.5% for all lawyers while all staff will receive bonuses during the year equivalent to 6% of salary.

James Waddell, who succeeded Richard King as managing partner in May, said: ‘We are delighted with the sustained growth of our firm over a number of years, supporting our independent and international strategy.  We will continue our focus on finding new and better ways to help deliver our clients’ objectives, while also providing a platform for our people to thrive in their careers.’