Dundas & Wilson
UK top 200 ranking: 53
Dundas & Wilson is likely to have found its 2011–12 financial results troubling. Turnover was down 12.1 per cent from £62m to £54.5m. Net profit plummeted 35.2 per cent from £25m to £16.2m over the same period while average profit per equity partner dropped 35.4 per cent from £325,000 to £210,000.
The firm’s profit margin fell more than 10 percentage points to just over 29 per cent. That said, a 29 per cent profit margin is still high. Dundas’s profit margin had previously been among the highest of any UK 200 law firm at 41 per cent.
The 2011–12 results are all the more disappointing given that 2010–11 looked to be a stabilising year for the firm, with turnover broadly flat and profit nudging up.
But then there’s a reason that so many Scottish firms chose to submit to takeovers by English firms recently — see McGrigors and Pinsent Masons, Biggart Baillie and DWF, TLT and Anderson Fyfe, DAC Beachcroft and Andersons Solicitors and Shoosmiths and Archibald Campbell & Harley, for example. One thing is for sure, it is not because of a surfeit of work.
For Dundas, however, merger talks with London firm Bircham Dyson Bell were called off in November 2012 before they had barely begun after partners at both firms gave a lukewarm reaction to the potential tie-up.
The firm's new joint managing partners, Caryn Penley and Allan Wernham, who replaced incumbent Donald Shaw in June 2012, have said that they will continue to focus on strengthening London, as well as looking to bulk up in corporate and oil and gas as well as in the firm’s Aberdeen office, which opened in February 2012.
News from The Lawyer
Analysis from The Lawyer
Dundas & Wilson has had a torrid few years. What can the new management do to turn the firm around?
The trend for unbundling legal work is advancing through the law firm ranks but there is still resistance in some quarters - namely in-house. We asked why
Overview191 West George Street
Turnover (£m): 54.4
Total lawyers: 260