Adams Solicitors, a firm well respected on East London's high streets, has undergone a radical transformation in the last year. Established in 1992 by husband and wife duo Som and Mahinder Chima, the firm, once known for its family and conveyancing expertise, appears to have hit the big time with the opening of a Canary Wharf office and a series of new client wins.
Last year the firm took the radical step of opening an office in Canary Wharf. The move followed the recruitment of former PricewaterhouseCoopers lawyer Sean Sydenham, who was appointed to take charge of business development at the firm.
The Canary Wharf debut marks a paradigm shift in Adams' work and strategy. Once a traditional high street firm majoring in family law and conveyancing, Adams is now repositioning itself to service key banking and corporate clients. But Sydenham insists the shift in focus is aimed at leveraging off the firm's existing clients. "We're not turning our back on high street services, but simply complementing our existing practice with advice work," he argues.
The move has paid off. Just three months after its September opening, the Canary Wharf office moved into profit. The firm took temporary space but is negotiating to acquire permanent premises and is aiming to grow the office by the end of the year.
As part of the rebranding exercise, which is designed to raise the firm's profile in the City, Adams has also engaged the services of advertising agency Barrett Howe.
Adams was founded when managing partner Som Chima (Adam is his middle name) took over the Mile End practice of Amhurst Brown Colombotti.
Mile End continues to service the firm's key clients in property, immigration and wills, trusts and probate, to which a liquor licensing capability has been added. As well as this, two partners in Walthamstow specialise in family, property and employment work. The firm owns the freehold on its £2m premises in Mile End, but attempts to acquire the freehold for the Walthamstow premises have proved fruitless.
Last year marked a series of significant client wins, with the Walthamstow office advising exchange group Bartercard on the lease of its headquarters in Richmond. The firm also won FPD Savills' private finance group as a new client and will advise on mortgages of £500,000 and above.
The Canary Wharf office celebrated a coup when it was approached to advise the local branch of Waitrose, although this relationship is in its early stages and has yet to be formalised.
Adams also invested around £120,000 in updating its case management software and IT systems using IT services company TFB. The update also saw the firm spend £10,000 on a dedicated phone line between its Mile End and Walthamstow branches, enabling files to be stored on a single server and to be accessible by staff across different offices.
The changes led last year to the firm winning Lexel accreditation and receiving a nomination in the Canary Wharf business awards. Whatever the fate of the office, Adams is one to watch.