Downturn sees DWF ‘move timeline’ for top 30 goal

Andrew Leaitherland

Andrew Leaitherland

Leaitherland told The Lawyer that the recession had provoked the change of heart.

“Like every other firm we’ve got to revise our strategy,” he said. “We still have the aspiration of being a top 30 firm, but we might have to move the timeline.”

DWF’s current three-year strategy, which expires in 2010, includes the ­objective of reaching that financial milestone.

As recently as the end of last year Leaitherland claimed that strong half-year results of 12.5 per cent growth meant that the firm was “on course to achieve our longer-term ambition to become a top 30 law firm by 2010.” (TheLawyer.com, 17 November 2008.)

Firms in the top 30 recorded turnovers equal to or greater than £100m ­during 2008-09, but DWF, which generated a revenue of £60m, came in at 52 in The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2009, despite growth of 9 per cent.

The firm, which has permanent bases in Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Preston, alongside temporary offices in Newcastle, is continuing to consider new launches.

“I’ve got an eye on where to look at over the next two or three years,” commented Leaitherland. “I’ve had discussions with firms in Newcastle, Bristol and Birmingham. [But] every time we look at a new office we have to staff it, and we’ve got the fit-out costs.

“We’ve got lots of latent capacity in our current offices. It doesn’t make sense to open elsewhere until we fill that spare space.”