Eversheds offshoot Berry Smith has grown from a two-partner firm established in 1985 to a 10-partner outfit with around 100 staff in total.
Like many firms, last year that growth stalled thanks to the economic downturn. Total revenue dropped by around £100,000 to £4.8m last year, a figure the firm is also projecting for 2010, while it was forced to lay off four people from its domestic conveyancing team and introduce a four-day week this spring.
“Since the end of September there’s certainly been more work, though there hasn’t been a massive upsurge,” says Berry Smith partner Andrew Bound. “We’re hopeful this year’s revenue will be about the same as last year’s, or perhaps a little higher.”
The firm is also looking further ahead than the end of the next financial year. Bound says he and his partners are “very interested” in the opportunies that may be created when the Legal Services Act comes into full force in 2011.
“We’re certainly very interested in what 2011 might bring in terms of deregulation,” says Bound. “That could mean acquiring individuals or parts of practices and also opportunities to attract outside funding. Whether or not we do it, who with and how that will be structured is all still up for grabs, but you can’t bury your head in the sand.”
For the moment, however, Berry Smith continues to be a traditional law firm with core practices in corporate, commercial property, employment and dispute resolution.
Unusually, all 10 of the firm’s partners, including CEO Alison Hoy, are members of the equity, a situation that has more to do with the cohesiveness of the partnership than the result of any grand strategic design.
“We’ve had salaried partners and fixed-share partners in the past, but now those people have just come through to full equity,” confirms Bound.
For a firm on the hunt for growth opportunities in the current climate, that cohesiveness could come in handy.
Chief executive: Alison Hoy Turnover: £4.8m Number of partners: 10 Number of equity partners: 10 Number of lawyers: 36 Number of fee-earners: 61 Number of offices: Four Locations: Bridgend, Bristol, Cardiff, London Main practice areas: Corporate, commercial property, employment, dispute resolution Main clients: BBI Holdings, Cowgill Grange, Invacare