​DWF emerges as big winner on lockup reduction in the UK 200

DWF has reduced its total lockup by 33 per cent since 2009, figures published in this year’s The Lawyer UK200 Annual Report have confirmed, with the expansionist firm posting a 51 per cent reduction in work in progress (WIP) over the same period.

In 2009 DWF’s year-end WIP stretched to 120 days, a figure that by last year the firm had cut to just 58 days. The firm’s year-end debtor day position was effectively unchanged over the same period, dropping by a single day from 67 to 66. The overall impact is a 33 per cent fall from 187 days to 124 days total lockup, the highest reduction among the 25 firms The Lawyer sampled.

DWF’s CFO Alex Hodgson said the firm had put in place a series of measures aimed at helping the firm deliver significant operational efficiencies.

“Key changes have included putting in place an experienced team of operational finance specialists which has allowed us to take as much of the administrative burden away from partners, fee-earners and secretaries and into the hands of a centralised team of finance professionals,” Hodgson said in this year’s UK200.

“In this way we’re able to provide a more proactive service to partners, pushing bills as client terms determine they are due, rather than waiting for a pull from fee-earners. We also work very closely with clients to agree service level agreements which best suit their needs and their need for efficient financial management, as well as our own.”

Conversely, adds Hodgson, DWF has also tried to automate as far as possible all of the activities that are more process-driven and don’t need specialist knowledge to run effectively.

“We set ourselves tough financial targets and we’re still driving through various measures to support this, so we expect to see further operational efficiencies going forward to support the firm’s continued growth,” he concludes.

Other firms to significantly cut lockup include Kennedys and legacy Bond Pearce (now Bond Dickinson), which respectively shaved 32 and 30 per cent off their total lockup.

This year more firms than ever before, a record 137 of the UK top 200, provided figures revealing their year-end WIP and debtor day levels. Most firms also provided data on the total lockup target they hope to achieve.

For more information and for the full data set of lockup statistics visit our UK200 page here