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On the wall of Druces & Attlee’s reception is a portrait of a grave-looking man in neat, black legal clothes. Charles Druce still watches over the firm that bears his name.
But Druces has changed considerably from the private client outfit that started out in 1783. These days senior partner Roy Campbell presides over a 16-partner, commercially-focused outfit.
Campbell says Druces is turning over more than £6m, with a profit margin in excess of 35 per cent.
The high profit is due partly to a favourable rent agreement first made in 1992 on Druces’ Finsbury Circus premises. After a recent rent review, the firm is now preparing to refurbish and expand slightly.
“We’ve never been extravagant with our offices,” Campbell says. “We’re more concerned with keeping our clients happy.”
Druces is also looking to grow its headcount. Most recently it took on Ian Searle, a partner from rival Reid Minty, to further develop the firm’s non-contentious insolvency practice. Campbell says lateral hires are a key part of Druces’ strategic plan, and although the firm has recently hovered at between 14 and 18 partners, ideally he is looking for it to grow to between 25 and 30. Despite this ambition, according to Campbell, there are no “gung-ho” merger plans.
Many of Druces’ clients have been instructing the firm for at least a century, with some relationships going back to its foundation. “Client 0001”, as Campbell puts it, is Dulwich College. Other key clients include the Innholders’ Company and brewery company Young’s. Biotech companies and property funds also feature on the list.
Work is predominantly property-based, with approximately 35 per cent of turnover coming from this area. Corporate and litigation account for another 25 per cent each, while the firm’s private client practice makes up the remaining 15 per cent. Tax and employment support the corporate and property teams.
Campbell says Druces has modernised significantly within the last two decades, growing its commercial focus. Through its partners’ relationships and due to the requirements of clients, the firm has also built up an international ‘best friends’ network involving 20 firms in 14 countries, including France, Germany and, more unusually, Albania and Vietnam.