DMH-Stallard merger pays off

South East firms have enjoyed a year of record turnovers, with DMH Stallard recording the largest rise thanks to the merger of DMH with London firm Stallard in January 2005.

South East firms have enjoyed a year of record turnovers, with DMH Stallard recording the largest rise thanks to the merger of DMH with London firm Stallard in January 2005.

The combined firm of DMH Stallard has seen turnover jump by more than a third to £20m, ranking it just outside the top 50 firms in The Lawyer UK 100, while net profit jumped to £3.8m. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 2.8 per cent to £180,000. Over the year, the firm has worked on seven admissions to AIM and launched a London employment team.

Managing partner Tim Aspinall said the growth was set to continue, with more hires in the pipeline. DMH Stallard’s management has set itself a turnover target of £30m for 2008.

DMH Stallard’s regional peers have also done well, although with more modest performances. Penningtons Solicitors saw turnover rise to £25.9m, an increase of 10 per cent, although PEP fell by 7.4 per cent to £125,000. The London-headquartered practice has captured a number of high-profile instructions this year, including advising the president of Equatorial Guinea on a civil action over an alleged conspiracy to overthrow his government.

Penningtons was one of two South East firms to convert to limited liability partnership status in the past 12 months.

Cripps Harries Hall also took this step, but although its turnover rose marginally, the 0.5 per cent increase to £19.4m was a disappointment for the firm, according to managing partner Jona-than Denny. Denny said the below par financial performance had resulted in a restructuring of the firm to make it a more “market-facing business”.

In a further effort to boost performance, Cripps has hired property lawyer Miles Pafford from Nabarro Nathanson and launched a new financial management team with the hire of Jason Ward, Deloitte & Touche’s head of tax compliance for offshore trust and fiduciary business.

Fellow South East firm Thomas Eggar recorded a 2.5 per cent rise in fee income to reach £27.8m and a profit increase of 8.8 per cent to £8.6m, putting PEP at £235,000.