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.
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%.
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‘ 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.
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.