It is three years since West Midlands firms FBC Solicitors and Manby Steward Bowdler joined forces and a post-merger restructuring is finally starting to pay off.
After seeing its total headcount decrease from around 300 at the time of the merger to 226 in 2010-11, with the conveyancing department in particular being scaled back, in the last financial year the firm posted a profit margin of 25 per cent. While the firm’s work covers a range of practice areas, a particular focus is personal injury (PI) work.
“We do defendant PI work and that’s growing,” says managing partner Kim Carr, adding that the firm receives a large number of referrals from Russell Jones & Walker business Claims Direct.
A large amount of the PI work FBC does is brain-injury related and this has led to the firm becoming involved in deputyship.
“We have one partner working as a deputy for brain-injured clients who can’t handle their own financial matters,” explains Carr. “The court appoints our partner before the end of the claim and they do it on a long-term basis. We’re getting work from other PI firms that don’t have that facility.”
FBC currently has 34 partners, 28 of whom are in the equity. The firm operates a modified lockstep that sees partners enter the equity on six points and gain one a year up to a maximum of 12. Positions can be halted or accelerated but not reversed. Those on the bottom of equity have £22,500 invested while plateau partners’ capital contribution is £45,000.
While FBC has paid off the bank borrowings it had at the time of its merger, it has overdraft facilities in place that it would use for capital projects.
Since the merger the firm operates from two sites in Wolverhampton and two in Telford, but is looking to move into a single office in both locations within the next two years.