Commercial property may bring in the lion’s share of fees at George Davies Solicitors, but the firm has the second-largest private client team in Manchester.
Through its links to sports unions, the firm has managed to land many high-profile sportsmen as clients, including boxers Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe.
The firm’s managing partner Mark Hovell says the strength of George Davies’s growing niche is attracting interest from potential merger partners on a weekly basis – but so far there has been no deal.
“We’re quite independent people,” says Hovell, a 17-year veteran at the firm.
As a full-service firm, George Davies does not undertake volume work, instead favouring higher-end divorce and conveyancing mandates. The approach has seen a healthy return, with fees up by 63 per cent over the past three years, this year hitting £7.3m.
The core practice areas at the firm are sport, media, education and healthcare. It also handles some sports insolvency work, leading it to work with every football club that has ‘gone under’ over the past 12 years.
In 2003 the firm found itself at a crossroads when a dozen lawyers who specialised in clinical defence work for the National Health Service Litigation Authority left to join Hill Dickinson.
George Davies lost a third of its turnover as a result, leaving it with just over £3m a year. Management was handed over to younger lawyers and the independent spirit of those remaining was tested. Since then the firm has built itself up organically.
“One of the bad and good things about being a 70-year-old practice is you can have some old habits that need modernising, but you can also have a wonderful client base,” says Hovell. “We’ve invested more in individuals and tried to promote a good culture where people enjoy themselves. There’s a much more inclusive feel to the place.”
Firm: George Davies Solicitors Managing partner: Mark Hovell Turnover: £7.3m Number of partners: 16 Number of equity partners: Seven Number of lawyers: 46 Number of fee-earners: 61 Number of offices: One Location: Manchester Main Practice Areas: Corporate, Property, Private client, healthcare, education, sport Clients: Professional Footballers’ Association, Scottish Professional Footballers’ Association, British Athletics Commission, Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Royal Northern College of Music, The Hallé, The Manchester College, Phoenix Healthcare Distribution, Johnsons, Hewdens