Analysis on DWF: Self-assembly, or the DIY law firm

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  • Interesting stuff. It intrigues me that DWF has gone up and up and up in a market which has been flat, flat, flat. They seemingly defy gravity.
    I would have liked the article to focus on those lateral hires in the "heavy lifting" areas as there have been a few who have joined and then left in relatively short order. The crux for the firm, perhaps, is the ability of those laterals - some apparently brought in on big packages and guarantees - to deliver the goods.
    But good luck to them: so many firms have retrenched, imploded or just stood still and DWF have had the ambition to grow.

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  • Unsecured creditors may also want to know why Lloyds bank was granted a debenture shortly before the appointment of the administrators

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  • £20m debt; new offices; rapid growth; whopping guarantees to laterals who promise followings; high volume; low margin; mid market player... anyone see the downside?

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  • DWF, With the notable exception of the Fishburns bolt-on, DWF are a churn and burn Insurance outfit, with no apparent real strategy, other than to be a "top 20" firm" Top 20 of what precisely !? DLA in the making? Never. They have no meaningful, corporate, commercial, or real estate offering, and to the extent they do it is lower mid-tier regional work. I don't get it, acquiring scale for scale's sake!

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  • I think DWF are not a 'churn and burn' firm.
    In my view their success comes from recruiting staff who are hungry to succeed. It's a common template that you see across the offices. Take Leeds for example, when they opened up in the city they went around taking the most promising assistants and associates from local firms. Those people are now approaching salary partner level. Their long term investment is paying off, which is surely about as far from "churn and burn" as you can get.

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  • And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint...

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  • Up like the rocket?
    They still seem to have a heavy reliance on insurance defence work. However, as the new personal injury reforms look to be decimating claimant firms that's bound to be reflected in the volume of work available to defendant firms.
    It's always been notoriously cuthroat, badly paid work, and those firms that do it will be fighting each other for what's left. With the anticipated decline of PI litigation generally that revenue source that DWF were relying on to finance all these acquisitions may start to dry up dramatically.
    Strong sell!

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  • This is sort of like Eversheds when they grew and became too fat and they are getting very fat very quickly.

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  • This is not just growth for the sake of growth - its pretty focused and well thought out, albeit at lightning pace. Look at some of the acquisitions: Fishburns fits perfectly into DWF's portfolio of insurance services; Cobbets was essentially a massive bargain and DWF had had its eye on it for a number of years in any case - no criticism. Everyone is so cynical and risk averse nowadays that the thought of a law firm striding forward aggressively rather than dithering about fills people with ominous dread. I'm sure DWF have taken note of the mistakes made by the likes of Cobbets, Halliwells, Eversheds etc. Give them a chance, I say.

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  • DWF - the worst law firm spammer?

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  • What intrigues me is how the mostly salaried partners feel about the few equity partners receiving so much more of the profits than they do. Is it a sustainable model, or an accident waiting to happen?

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  • The 'innovation' is not in 'acquiring scale'. Anyone can do that. Its whats you do with it once you have acquired it.

    Its fair to say that most text book analysts seem to agree that mergers dont work. If however you are in the legal profession, where turnover is the measure above all, mergers work great.

    The true reality is that the biggest challenge to firms over the next 5 years is dealing with the natural cyclical entropy of the legal profession. The current market environment is not just some temporary economic frustration. Its more akin to a consumer rebellion. This will almost certainly be 'the new normal'.

    That said the internal challenge for most law firms is to not only innovate their business model to fully understand their target clients and develop propositions that support price and value but to also create new organisational structures, infrastructures and cultures synonymous with the future client base, not only having more choice, but becoming even more demanding on price, value and service.

    The problem I see with DWF is they are effectively building/buying a business structure of the past heading into a pretty unknown future that is demanding an alternative.

    As a marketer, I love the brand. But brand, brand strength, brand loyalty, brand equity and engagement (yadda yadda) is part of history now.

    This is the marketing age of the 'value proposition'. Quite what DWF's current market proposition is, Im not sure.

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  • DWF is growing really fast, taking the lead in technology. As a client, I can see a big investment in IT. The extranet they prepared for us was simply astonishing. I hope we will be able to see DWF in the Top 10 soon.

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  • As a DWF client I have to admit, services they provide to us are simply astonishing (IT), especially the extranet portal they setup for us. We hope to see DWF in the top 10 very soon, they deserve it.

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  • Surely this relentless quest for a mention in the top 30 must be a business plan for a CEO who has concurrently devised his own quick exit plan.

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  • The most awful, bullying, soul destroying place to work. Hopefully they get swallowed up by a dignified law firm

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