Legal Business Blogs

Wragge & Co sees H1 revenues and profits up as Metcalfe to leave after end of MP term

Wragge & Co has named October 2013 as its highest billing month since the boom years as it joins the ranks of firms posting positive results for the first half (H1) of 2013/14, news which comes as Ian Metcalfe confirms he will be departing the firm to pursue other opportunities when he steps down as managing partner next April.

The top 30 Birmingham-headquartered firm has posted a group turnover increase of 4% to £63m, which includes the firm’s international offices both owned and affiliated, while the UK offices saw a revenue increase 6% on the same period last year to £58m.

Wragge & Co is so far unusual in announcing its mid-term profits and it has good reason to shout about them, as they are up 15% on this time last year.Metcalfe attributes much of the firm’s financial success so far to strong performances from real estate and dispute resolution, and said October 2013 is the best month for billing overall since October 2008, when the firm was at its peak.

Metcalfe said: ‘Things are looking pretty positive. Both the macro-economic environment and the market is better, we have been operating at over 100% utilisation in many practice areas and we have been actively recruiting in real estate.

‘It’s been a long slog, and we continue not to be complacent. There’s still a long way to go but there appears to be a positive and sustained pipeline and we seem to be looking out over a strong second half.’

The difference between group and UK figures comes down in part to its affiliated office in Dubai, which is not performing as well, while the firm’s Paris base lost a seven-lawyer real estate and finance team to local firm Franklin in July.

A replacement four-lawyer real estate team led by partner Constance de La Hosseraye from the local office of leading UK firm Bird & Bird was announced shortly after.

With these positive figures a testament to Metcalfe’s safe helm of the firm during his eight often difficult years as managing partner, he will be leaving the firm next year when projects head David Fennell takes over in April.

Metcalfe told Legal Business this week that he will not be returning to client work at the firm as originally planned but will be leaving to pursue other non-legal opportunities in the world of business.

Metcalfe – who currently fulfils non-executive roles on the board of the Rugby Football Union and on the board of England Rugby 2015, the board responsible for delivering the 2015 rugby world cup, the third largest sporting event in the world – will be looking for non-executive roles.

‘I was fortunate enough to preside over the best year the firm ever had in 2008 when we had our highest turnover, and I’ve dealt with the most extreme fall in profits the firm has ever had and managed the firm through the recession. I am determined to hand over the ship in good order to David and give him the best possible start,’ said Metcalfe.

‘I will continue to have a consulting role in the 12 months after I leave. For me it would be quite hard to recreate a corporate practice at 56.

‘I will be looking at other possibilities – a third career if you like – with great excitement and am thrilled to be leaving in good heart with a very positive relationship with the firm, which I have worked at for 25 years.’