Legal Business

Redundancy 2013: Watson Farley latest top 40 firm to review secretarial jobs

Redundancy 2013: Watson Farley latest top 40 firm to review secretarial jobs

With 2013 offering all the dubious promise of being the toughest legal labour market since 2013, Watson, Farley & Williams has become the latest top 40 firm to announce it is to review its secretarial support function in its London office.

A firm spokesperson said: ‘Secretaries in WFW’s London office were recently advised that a review of our secretarial support function will be taking place over the next five weeks, following which the team may be restructured if required.

‘This aims to ensure that we have highly skilled and specialised roles that meet the needs of our fee earners.’

The firm would not comment further on the review, first revealed by RollOnFriday, or confirm the number of roles that may be affected.

Watson Farley this year broke through the £100m revenue barrier, announcing an increase of 2% to £102.1m compared to last year’s £99.8m. However, this increase is significantly below average when compared with its revenue growth of 73% over the past five years. PEP has also dropped by 13% to £388,000 from £446,000 in 2012.

The 339-lawyer firm said the rise in revenue and drop in profit was due to a period of heavy investment, including its Hong Kong launch in March 2012 followed by an opening in Frankfurt in January of this year, as well as the six lateral partner hires the firm made last year.

WFW joins a long list of UK practices to announce redundancy reviews in recent months including Hill Dickinson, DWF, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Osborne Clarke.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

UK financial roll call: Wragge & Co, Hill Dicks, Watson Farley and Trowers reveal 2012/13 numbers

The UK top 100 financial roll call has seen Wragge & Co, Watson, Farley & Williams, Trowers & Hamlins and Hill Dickinson unveil their financial results for 2012/13, with a number suffering a significant dent in their profit figures.

Watson Farley broke through the £100m revenue barrier, reporting a firm-wide increase of 2% to £102.1m, up on last year’s £99.8m. However, PEP has dropped by 13% to £388,000 from £446,000 in 2012.

The 339-lawyer firm attributed both the rise in revenue and the drop in profit to its Hong Kong launch in March 2012 followed by an opening in Frankfurt in January of this year, together with the six lateral partner hires the firm made last year.

Watson Farley managing partner Michael Greville said: ‘We are confident that these investments driven by client demand will generate sustained growth for the business. A strong pipeline of work coming in across all of our offices already bodes well for 2013.’

Elsewhere, top 30 Birmingham headquartered Wragge & Co today announced an increase in both profit and turnover – the only one of the four firms to do so. Turnover was up by 2% to £120.5m and PEP rose by 3% to £339,000, with overall profit at the firm up by 5.5% from £38.1m to £40.2m.

At 332-lawyer firm Trowers & Hamlin, however, global net profit slid by 21% from 20.1m in 2011/12 to 15.8m this year, with PEP down to £307,000 and revenue down to £78.3m. Property contributed to 43% of the firm’s revenue, followed by corporate (30%), litigation (18%) finance (6%) and the remainder spread across other practice areas.

The UK top 50 firm’s equity spread this year ranges from £165,000 at its lowest to £412,000 at its highest, down from £198,000 to £496,000 in 2011/12, while the number of partner globally is down from 56 to 52.

Also suffering a significant drop in PEP is top 30 UK firm Hill Dickinson, which saw its figure decrease by 15% to £264,000 from £312,000 in 2011/12, although revenues increased to £112.8m, up 2% on last year’s £110.1m.

Managing partner Peter Jackson has pointed to increased overheads and international expansion for the firm’s slump in profitability, including its launch in February this year of an office in Monte Carlo to boost its yacht and shipping practices.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Out of the shadows

Out of the shadows

Michael Greville is the leader of Watson, Farley & Williams, an under-the-radar UK mid-market firm that has been going through an identity crisis. The last few years have seen merger talks aplenty – both transatlantic and domestic – but organic growth is now firmly on the agenda

Some law firms have the ability to hog the media spotlight with a mere stub of a press release – think PR-savvy brands like DLA Piper and Eversheds. Other City stalwarts pride themselves on following a deliberately low-profile path, to the extent that by looking at its website you would never know that Slaughter and May even has a PR function.