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Flint Bishop" class="inline_image inline_image_left" src="/pictures/web/images/16627_P7_Flint_Bishop.jpg" />With turnover dropping slightly over the past year, and a forecast for more of the same over the next 12 months, Midlands firm Flint Bishop has felt the effects of the downturn. But managing partner Ken Dixon suggests that the firm’s bank balance looks strong and that there are plenty of opportunities.
“We’re quite resilient because we have a decent spread of work,” insists Dixon. “In turnover terms we’ll see a reduction of 10-15 per cent over the forthcoming year, but we’ve made changes and have earmarked some new practice areas for growth.”
The firm has already reduced staff by 10 per cent on Flints Direct, an online conveyancing service, which now employs five people and is breaking even. Dixon plans to focus more on education, sport, leisure, public sector and IT, the latter being a reflection of Derby’s newfound fame as the ‘Silicon Valley of the Midlands’. The repositioning is designed to take advantage of when the good times return.
“The main strategy is to make sure we’re resilient in the upturn. I joined in the previous downturn in the mid-’90s,” he says, “and I don’t think we made enough of the market coming out of it. We won’t do that again.”
With no loans and only a small overdraft, Flint Bishop has the opportunity to be more adventurous, perhaps starting with a merger in Nottingham. The firm opened an office in the city three years ago, but it did not work out as hoped and has now closed, with Dixon eyeing a merger or acquisition of an established firm as a preferred way of entering the Nottingham market.
Work at the firm is currently split 50-50 between commercial and private client, but Dixon is aiming for an ideal breakdown of 70 per cent commercial and 30 per cent private client. Recent client wins include advising Clowes Developments on a £46m land purchase last year opposite Slaughter and May. The firm also topped the Black Solicitors Network’s Diversity League Table for the second year in a row.
“Diversity gives us individuality. We have a lot of talented people and don’t put them in boxes,” adds Dixon.