FFW: surprise performer

Ok, hands up. We were completely wrong last year when we recommended Field Fisher Waterhouse as a sell. Anyone holding on to imaginary shares in the London firm would have been quids in, with PEP leaping 27 per cent to over £750,000, on preliminary figures.



Ok, hands up. We were completely wrong last year when we recommended Field Fisher Waterhouse as a sell. Anyone holding on to imaginary shares in the London firm would have been quids in, with PEP leaping 27 per cent to over £750,000, on preliminary figures.

Last year it was 21st most profitable firm in The Lawyer UK200. Now it’s overtaken Lovells and is gaining fast on SJ Berwin, and will comfortably end up in the top 20 by PEP.

Unusually for many City firms this year, consistent growth across corporate, tech/IP (both contentious and non-contentious) and competition led to as 23 per cent leap in fee income in London from last year.

So did FFW’s public sector client base take up the slack in the soggy second half-year? Public sector work under New Labour has been a cash cow for many, and the firm has been involved on enormous (and frankly, controversial) projects such as ID cards.

But how long can FFW rely on that? Looks like the firm’s not taking too much for granted here. Managing partner Moira Gilmour tells me that she wants to increase the work sourced from overseas from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, for a start.

But what’s all this about aiming for £200m by 2012? “Mathematically it’s achievable,” says Gilmour, who argues that the firm managed to grow 40 per cent in revenues to £83.5m in just two years.

I’m sure it is. But I suspect that FFW is a lot more likely to reach that target through merger – a subject on which Gilmour is uncharacteristically coy: “It’s on the agenda of every mid-sized law firm. For us, any merger would be driven primarily by cultural fit.”

That’ll be a yes, then.

Previous blogs:

27-June-2008, Walker Morris: Turn down the volume

27-June-2008, Hill Dickinson: A tale of two cities

20-June-2008, LG: “frustrating and disappointing”

13-June-2008, Trowers & Hamlins: set back, or de-railed?

12-June-2008, Stephenson Hardwood: joining the club

11-June-2008, Ward Hadaway, Leeds and Hoyle: the long game

10-June-2008, Lewis Silkin: credit where due?

09-June-2008, Freshfields: equity cull pays off

06-June-2008, Martineau Johnson: mission accomplished?

05-June-2008, Addleshaw Goddard: babies and bathwater

04-June-2008, Technology firms: RPP reveals all

02-June-2008, The magic circle – a new ring leader to emerge?

30-May-2008, Berwin Leighton Paisner: could do better

29-May-2008, Links to take CC’s crown?

28-May-2008, FFW: surprise performer

22-May-2008, Herbert Smith lays down the gauntlet

19-May-2008, Second tier is out to impress

Top of the PEPs Revenue PEP Table