BPE Solicitors hit the headlines in The Lawyer earlier this year (15 June) when it closed the Birmingham office it had opened in more prosperous times seven years previously.
In what has proved to be a period of some significant change for the firm, BPE also changed its financial year-end from April to 30 September. This tax planning move is likely to have a beneficial impact on revenue to the tune of around £100,000 or more, and although total turnover will be down on 2007-08, average profit is set to increase.
Senior partner John Workman is hopeful that the worst is behind it and that the firm’s practice mix and client base will result in a revenue bounce next year.
“We have 10 listed company clients, including Mears Group, which I floated 13 years ago,” he says. “We also have several buoyant specialist areas and there are definite signs that most of the practice areas are picking up.”
Those areas include commercial property, one of the hardest-hit groups for many firms across the UK over the past couple of years. BPE has been acting for a Guernsey-based regulated investment fund on a number of deals.
Elsewhere, some of the firm’s longest-standing clients have continued to provide solid corporate and commercial instructions. Although work might not be back at that of the pre-global meltdown level, a period during which Workman says BPE had “a couple of purple years”, the firm is at least looking to recruit after having shut down in Birmingham. In fact, it recently rehired two of the eight people it made redundant earlier this year.
BPE also hired employment lawyer Lisa Norman from Bevan Brittan as an associate, who last Friday (18 September) was unveiled as the firm’s newest partner, effective from 1 October.
For the next financial year BPE will maintain its parallel approach to the market, which entails providing local services in a roughly 40-mile radius of Cheltenham, and City-focused corporate and commercial advice targeting the AIM market, M&A and finance.
Senior partner: John Workman Turnover: £6.7m (projected) Number of partners: 18 Number of equity partners: Six Number of lawyers: 43 Number of fee-earners: 65 Number of offices: One Location: Cheltenham Main practice areas: Corporate, commercial, commercial property, employment, litigation, personal injury Clients: Government of Estonia, Mears Group, Maxima, Jelf Group, WH Ardent, Chelsea Building Society