UK top 200 ranking: 34 (DWF), 134 (Biggart Baillie)
Manchester-headquartered DWF had a busy year in 2011–12, having taken over Newcastle firm Crutes in January 2012, bolted on Birmingham and Coventry firm Buller Jeffries in April 2012 and acquired £16m Edinburgh-headquartered Biggart Baillie in July 2012.
The tie-up between DWF and Biggart Baillie creates a firm with an estimated combined turnover of £117.5m and is home to around 166 partners in 12 offices across London, the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland. Although it will initially be branded as DWF Biggart Baillie in Scotland, it is not yet clear whether the Scottish arm will eventually drop the ‘Biggart Baillie’ name.
Biggart Baillie had a reasonably good year in 2011–12, having been drafted in to advise Duff & Phelps, the administrators of Rangers FC, as the club went into administration. It also retained its position on BBC Scotland’s legal panel in 2011, with a remit that includes competition, criminal law, employment, IP and litigation.
Away from the flurry of bolt-ons in 2011–12, DWF also increased its presence in the Midlands with the opening of a new office in Birmingham in July 2011.
However, the 2011–12 financial year was not without its setbacks. In January 2012 DWF aborted its merger talks with Cobbetts, citing uncertain market conditions, while in July The Lawyer reported that the firm’s Newcastle chief, John Flynn — hired only a year previously from Dickinson Dees — was leaving after encountering integration difficulties.
But these were only small nuisances for the firm's managing partner Andrew Leaitherland, who saw his firm break the £100m turnover mark for the first time in 2011–12 and also close in on the top 30, moving up five places from 39 to 34. Turnover at the firm rose 23 per cent in 2011–12, up from £83m in 2010–11 to £102m.
In January 2013 DWF continued its acquisition spree by acquiring professional indemnity practice Fishburns, gifting the firm with a 22-partner team with a niche insurance practice and offices across Bristol, Dublin and London.
The firm’s managing partner also hasn't ruled out DWF's ambitions to consolidate with more firms in Scotland in the near future.
News from The Lawyer
Analysis from The Lawyer
Alliances, failed and successful, are the story of the year outside London
Overview1 Scott Place
2 Hardman Street
Turnover (£m): 117.5 combined
No of lawyers: 561