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In the estate agent-style terminology of its high-end conveyancing client base, Dutton Gregory benefits from its position in the recession-proof town of Winchester.
Bizarrely, in the current market the firm has had to recruit for its commercial and residential conveyancing team, which focuses on properties worth up to several millions of pounds.
“That department had a fabulous year,” says chief executive Michelle Tatner. “It’s helped that we’ve avoided going for the low end of the market, but Winchester is an odd place, it almost has a micro-economic climate all of its own.”
The town’s location near to the New Forest helps with keeping property prices high. Meanwhile, Dutton Gregory’s broad base of 12 departments ensured turnover was up slightly, from £6.7m last year to £7m.
“Profit was also up,” adds Tatner. Average profit per equity partner stood at around £150,000 last year, a decent return for the 14 equity partners. “Strategically we’re looking at expanding some teams and consolidating what we’ve got already,” she says. “We’ve taken over several smaller firms over the past five years and may continue with that strategy.”
Tatner admits that the firm’s company and commercial group had been “very quiet indeed”.
Aside from corporate and property Dutton Gregory is probably best known for its specialist childcare unit and niche clinical negligence group, which generated around 12 per cent of its revenue last year.
“It’s a hugely successful part of the practice, but the problem with building it up is it creates a huge amount of work-in-progress,” admits Tatner. “One case settled after 10 years. But as a firm we simply take a very prudent approach to our finances.”
The prudently run firm had a capital call last year. “In the end we didn’t need either that or our overdraft,” says Tatner.
Managing partner:Michelle Tatner
Number of partners:21
Number of lawyers:14
Main practice areas:Commercial and residential property, corporate and commercial, commercial litigation, clinical negligence, personal injury
Key clients: Carter Jonas, Countrywide, Lloyds underwriters, Whites Group, Zenergi