Essex firm Attwaters is a year into a five-year strategy last year that saw it install Sheenagh Parsons as managing partner. Under the new regime, Attwaters aimed to invest more heavily in the areas of corporate and private client and broaden the practice away from its traditionally largest areas of personal injury and clinical negligence.
But that was before the crash.
“Obviously we launched our new strategy before the recession took hold,” admits Parsons, “but we believe we’re in a very strong position for when things start to turn around.”
Parsons’ optimism is partly based on the hires Attwaters has made since launching its new strategy. These include property specialist Peter Westbrook, who joined this July as a salaried partner from local firm Whiskers Solicitors (where he was also a partner) to head the residential property practice.
At the same time the firm also promoted clinical negligence associate Madeline Seibert - with the firm since 2001 - to salaried partner.
Parsons says that while Attwaters has been affected by the recession in terms of work flows the firm has avoided having to make redundancies, partly by moving lawyers around between departments, including from residential property to personal injury.
“We set ourselves a billing target for 2008-09 that would see us achieve a £3.7m turnover,” adds Parsons. “We actually managed £3.5m, and were very pleased with that.” The target for 2009-10 is £3.84m.
More recently, Attwaters rebranded on 15 June from Attwater & Liell, the name of the firm since 1901. The snappier title was intended to be a reflection of the firm’s more corporate outlook.
“We want to let our corporate clients know that we can offer City-style services but not at City rates,” insists Parsons. Although the firm is not awash with former City lawyers, Attwaters is looking to pitch itself as a potential home for London talent seeking a change of scenery.
“We strongly believe in investing in our people, particularly with respect to training” says Parsons. “That’s the backbone of our business.”
Managing partner: Sheenagh Parsons Turnover: £3.5m Number of partners: 10 Number of equity partners: Nine Number of lawyers: 24 Number of fee-earners: 32 Number of offices: Two Locations: Harlow, Loughton Main practice areas: Clinical negligence, corporate, personal injury, private client, property Clients: Astro Lighting, Europaid, Loftcat Leisure, Mead Testing, Paddington Lettings