Grapevine

Six months of navel gazing have produced the following startling conclusion at Taylor Wessing: change nothing. Well, as they might say, if it ain’t broke, etc.

But Taylor Wessing has got itself into a bit of a bind with its tech-firm branding. What was a lovely little USP four years ago has hampered the firm’s development in other areas.

So, time to get the message out to the market about the other things Taylor Wessing does well. Such as real estate, which produces a sharp-intake-of-breath-causing 15 per cent of turnover. Or instructions derived from its financial institution client base, which clock in at 25 per cent of total revenues. Technology and IP-rich clients, meanwhile, account for just 20 per cent of the firm’s clients. And the firm’s pure IT team looks like it will remain at its reduced level for the time being, following this year’s exit of five partners.

Not surprisingly, there’s no rush to recruit in IT, but overall the firm does lay claim to some pretty ambitious growth plans. It is aiming to crack the 100m GBP revenue barrier in the UK by 2008 – a boost of more than 40 per cent. Which means at least 50 more associates recruited over the next five years. The combined firm turnover total could well top 200m EUR.

However, that phrase, “the combined firm”, is where Taylor Wessing’s biggest challenge lies. Managing partner Gary Moss points out in the firm’s strategy summary – seen by The Lawyer – that two years ago the firm was a single-site, London-based firm. Now it has Germany more or less covered, Paris launched, a space in Brussels and a face in Alicante,Shanghai and Dubai. The Netherlands at some point will figure (the firm is aiming for “a significant presence” in at least five major European jurisdictions by 2008), and possibly the US even later. Neither is currently on the agenda, although the swathes of former accountancy-tied lawyers coming on to the market (such as Landwell in the Netherlands) might prove an unlooked-for opportunity.

It all looks great on paper, but as Moss in person admits, the challenge now is full firm integration on everything from business development to accounting systems. The merger and the office openings have generated lots of goodwill, although there’s always the danger that it could be damaged by one side (let’s say Germany, for example) ceding authority to another over IT and financials. Managing that process without major upheaval may take considerably longer than six months.