Legal Business

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.’

Legal Business

Leadership shake-up sees Stevens & Bolton unveil new managing partner

Richard King has been succeeded by corporate partner James Waddell as Stevens & Bolton’s managing partner as part of a leadership revamp.

King is stepping down after a successful five years in the role. In 2021, the Guildford-headquartered firm reported turnover of £29.1m, bringing the firm to 11 consecutive years of solid revenue growth. Corporate was among the fastest-growing practice areas last year posting 10% growth on 2020, behind only the firm’s intellectual property team, which reported a 17% growth.

King said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as managing partner at the firm – culminating in a particularly strong financial performance this year as we celebrate a return to normality after the pandemic.  I am delighted to see James taking up the reins – he has led our market-leading corporate practice for the last seven years and is well placed to steer the firm to future success, supported by a strong leadership team.’

His successor, whose appointment was effective as of 1 May, joined the firm in 2001 from Macfarlanes and became partner in 2007. Waddell – who is described in The Legal 500 as ‘bright, thorough, unflappable’ – has experience in a range of corporate, corporate finance and related regulatory mandates.

Waddell (pictured) commented: ‘The last five years have been an incredibly challenging time to run any business, and Richard has led our firm magnificently over that period. As a result, I am taking on the role while the firm continues to go from strength to strength and we have great ambition for our future growth and success.’

As part of the senior leadership shift, Keith Syson has been elected as senior partner replacing corporate partner Richard Baxter after a decade in the role, and litigator Sarah Murray takes over from Jonathan Porteous as head of the firm’s international practice group. Meanwhile, head of the corporate tax department, Kate Schmit, takes on the newly created role of strategy partner.

Gearing up for the Waddell’s promise of future growth, the firm has also bolstered its partnership with the addition of four. The additions include external hires of corporate and regulatory partner Heidi Sawtell, who joined from Andover-based firm Talbot Walker and brings insurance sector specialism, and new private client partner Gareth Walliss, who joins from Shoosmiths where he was a principal associate.

Meanwhile, restructuring expert Matt Padian and family lawyer Grace Parker-White were promoted to the partnership.

Legal Business

Stevens & Bolton posts eleventh year of turnover growth in latest set of financials

LB100 firm Stevens & Bolton has unveiled solid financial results for 2020/2021, marking 11 consecutive years of revenue growth.

In spite of the pandemic, the South East heavyweight has posted turnover of £29.1m, which represents a 2% increase on last year, while profit per equity partner in its all-equity partnership increased by 10% to hit £267,000.

The results were driven by strong growth in a number of core practice areas. In particular, intellectual property reported a 17% growth on 2020, which brings the total practice growth since 2018 to 111%. The corporate team posted a 10% growth on the previous year and the private wealth practice also grew by 7%. These impressive figures were underpinned by a number of significant instructions, including advising Pizza Hut Restaurants on its CVA, Beretta Holdings on its UK expansion and Seal Software on its sale to Docusign.

In tandem with this sustained growth, the firm has announced a pay rise for all its solicitors, resulting in a median increase of 13% per lawyer, and also full reimbursement to all those who received temporary pay reductions last year as part of a package of financial measures the firm took in response to the immediate financial effect of Covid-19.

Commenting on the year’s results, managing partner Richard King (pictured, right) said: ‘I am really proud of how the entire firm has pulled together during the past 14 months, and how, as a result of our collective efforts, we haven’t simply managed during a pandemic, but thrived. I am also delighted that our financial results have afforded us the opportunity to reward our stellar team. This builds on our move to an all-equity model in September 2019 – at the time, a regional first. We have long attracted talent from the City and we remain committed to recruiting the industry’s brightest and best minds.’

He added: ‘These solid financial results provide an excellent platform for us to build on as we begin work on our ambitious 2024 strategic plan. With significant projects in the pipeline, an ever-growing roster of impressive clients and a highly talented team, it’s exciting to see where our ambitions take us next.’

The Guildford-based firm – which was named National/Regional firm of the Year at the 2016 Legal Business Awards – has long made a virtue of offering corporate clients a City-standard service and has recruited senior lawyers from the magic circle and leading London firms to achieve this. These latest financial results show that since the firm first entered the LB100 in 2015, revenue has grown organically by 30%.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Punching above weight

You’ve both been at the firm for more than 25 years. What have been your highlights?

Richard King (RK), managing partner, Stevens & Bolton: I’m in my third year as managing partner and speaking as a manager, rather than a litigator, the highlight is our ongoing evolution. There’s a real sense that we’ve never stood still, and yet, for all that we’ve evolved, the foundations have been there from the beginning.

Legal Business

Continuing apace: Stevens & Bolton posts eighth year of growth amid 9% revenue rise

South East heavyweight Stevens & Bolton has completed its eighth successive year of growth, posting a 9% turnover increase to £28.3m.

The 2018/19 results came off the back of last year’s 9% revenue hike to £26.8m and continued a pacey run for the Guildford-headquartered firm.

Profit per equity partner increase by 10% from £411,000 to £452,000, a new high for the firm which saw a 25% increase the previous year. In addition, profit per lawyer reached £54,000 while revenue per lawyer hit £215,000, a 19% and 9% increase over the past three years respectively. Contributing to the performance were clients including BOC / Linde, TGI Fridays, Kia Motors, Samsung, Royal Philips and Allianz Insurance.

Meanwhile, corporate highlights included acting for Cancom SE on its acquisition of OCSL and Royal Phillips on its acquisition of Remote Diagnostic Technologies. While M&A was flatter in 2018/19 than in previous years, the team has seen a 33% increase in the last three years.

Senior partner Richard Baxter told Legal Business: ‘There’s a strong focus on the financials but it’s not all about financials, there are lots of other considerations to make up the overall success that I think we’ve been enjoying in recent years.’

Other factors included reducing the lock-up time to 86 days, a 13% reduction, and an increase in referral work with City firms, which the firm calls Surrey shoring.

Baxter added ‘We’ve seen quite a growth in that area, working with both US firms in the City, particularly where those firms may not have all round capabilities, but also with a number of Magic Circle firms. That’s been a real growth area for us.’

The firm promoted new partners in three key areas of growth: Andrew Dodds (finance), James Hardaker (tax and estate planning) and James Lister (contentious trust litigation). The firm has 230 people in total, 42 of which are partners.

The firm increased revenue in dispute resolution by 25%, winning key mandates on cases including Gama Aviation in its High Court claim against Dustin Dryden, its former owner and director.

Finance and restructuring has seen investment and 19% revenue growth, with the 2016 hire of David Steinberg, previously joint head of finance at Clifford Chance, contributing significantly to the uptick. International work was up 15%.

Legal Business

Lucky seven: Stevens & Bolton reveals seventh year of growth and posts record partner profits

Continuing its consistently impressive organic growth, South East heavyweight Stevens & Bolton has posted a 9% hike in turnover to a new high of £26.8m, as the firm maintains its climb up the Legal Business 100.

Profit per equity partner, meanwhile, also hit a record high in 2017/18, increasing by 25% from £330,000 to £411,000. The results mean the Guildford-based firm has secured consecutive growth for the last seven years, with heightened activity in corporate, employment and pensions all contributing.

In addition, major disputes in the aviation industry have boosted the firm’s figures, according to managing partner Richard King, as have client wins in the insurance and construction sectors. He added that the firm is now looking for similar growth during the next financial year after a strong start to the summer.

‘There’s been a strong growth in corporate and lots of M&A activity. Our employment group has really taken an upturn, which is very encouraging, and the infamous GDPR has contributed to that.’

King has been at the helm of the national firm since May 2017, when he succeeded Ken Woffenden following the completion of his five-year term. Currently the partner headcount at Stevens & Bolton stands at 42, with 150 lawyers in total, with the firm also announcing today a promotion round that saw construction and engineering specialist Kimberley Eyssell and corporate tax lawyer Jamie Crawford made up to partner.

‘We are always looking to expand further, particularly on the corporate side – we feel there’s room for recruitment there,’ added King.

Earlier this month the firm, which was named National/Regional firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in 2016, also announced it was advising long-standing client Seal Software on its acquisition of the US-based legal analytics firm Apogee Legal.

Legal Business

‘The ideal platform’: Stevens & Bolton shows award-winning credentials with senior CC partner hire


Legal Business‘ National/Regional Firm of the Year, Stevens & Bolton, has underlined its ability to offer City levels of expertise with the hire of David Steinberg, joint leader of Clifford Chance (CC)’s insolvency and restructuring group in London.

Steinberg (pictured) is a ‘very commercial’ partner in CC’s tier-one insolvency and restructuring practice, according to The Legal 500. Having worked at CC for his entire career, including 22 years as partner, he has experience advising debtors, creditors and other stakeholders on cross-border insolvencies, international litigation/asset recoveries and restructuring deals. His CV includes acting for various creditors and customers of the Lehman and MF Global estates on asset recovery, security enforcement, set-off and claims assertion.

Steinberg will start at Stevens & Bolton in early June and will jointly lead its restructuring and insolvency team with current head, Tim Carter.

‘There is a real demand from corporates and financial institutions who, because of the size of the deal or simple pressures on liquidity, baulk at paying top City rates but who nevertheless require sophisticated restructuring and insolvency advice to address complex problems,’ Steinberg said. ‘Stevens & Bolton – with its full-service capability and its impressive bench of lawyers, including many ex-City lawyers, is the ideal platform from which to develop this practice.’

Named National/Regional Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards earlier this month, Stevens & Bolton capped another successful year by entering the LB100 in 2015, having increased turnover by 49% over the last five years. As a cohesive 40-partner firm, it is able to leverage strong profitability and its PEP has matched turnover for growth over the last five years, rising from £280,000 to £415,000 – against a margin of 29% – comfortably ahead of the average for all the top 100 law firms.

Its successful model hinges on attracting experienced partners from City firms as well as local competitors, in turn winning strong instructions from significant clients wanting London service levels but not London fees. This has led to its involvement on impressive deals, such as recently advising SABMiller on the $260m sale of various drinks brands to The Coca-Cola Company. In the last few years, the firm has won places on the legal panels for BP, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and Clydesdale Bank.

Managing partner Ken Woffenden, himself a former corporate partner at Simmons & Simmons, said: ‘David has led a top-tier rated Magic Circle practice and has a fantastic reputation in restructuring and insolvency work…David’s enormous experience in complex restructuring and insolvency work over many years, combined with his excellent market profile, will be a great addition and will help us develop our finance practice into one of the strongest outside the City.’

Steinberg’s appointment follows the recent hire of Clyde & Co senior associate Alex Watt, who joined the firm’s real estate team as a partner last month.

Legal Business

Financials 2014/15: Stevens & Bolton breaks £20m barrier to nudge top 100 firms by revenue


South East heavyweight Stevens & Bolton has revealed a 13% hike in revenue for 2014/15 to a record high of £22.3m, putting it on the cusp of the Legal Business 100, while profits per equity partner continue to outgun many larger firms, passing £400,000.

The Guildford firm, which has been shortlisted as National/Regional Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards for the last four years and won the category in 2009, has posted revenue growth for five consecutive years, this year growing from £19.8m to £22.3m. PEP has broken through the £400,000 barrier with an increase just shy of 10%, from £375,000 in 2013/14 to £410,000.

The results follow a strong showing last year when the firm reported a 10% growth in turnover and an 18% increase in PEP. Since 2010, when the firm posted revenues of £15.2m, it has grown turnover by 47%, building on a successful model that hinges on offering close to London levels of pay to attract experienced partners from City firms as well as local competitors, in turn winning strong instructions from significant clients wanting London service levels but not London fees.

Managing partner Ken Woffenden (pictured), himself a former corporate partner at Simmons & Simmons said: ‘While we have seen growth right across the firm, we have seen particularly strong increases in corporate/M&A, IT/IP and litigation this year. On the transactional side, over the last 12 months we’ve handled deals with an aggregate value in excess of £1.5bn. We have also enjoyed some major client wins, including our appointment to BP’s legal panel for employment work, Nintendo, Tommy Hilfiger and the AA.’

Stevens & Bolton was one of nine firms selected by BP last summer to provide niche legal services in an agreement that will run until 2017.

The firm’s impressive increase in profitability has not come at the expense of a reduction in headcount, with it now totaling 36 partners and nearly 200 staff, representing a 14% growth in headcount over the last two years.