Iliffes Booth Bennett

Managing partner Steven Booth's three-year plan is to increase profit and turnover to get the firm into the top 100. Turnover at Iliffes Booth Bennett (IBB) has increased year on year for the past five years by around 12 per cent. It currently stands at £9.25m – Tarlo Lyons, ranked number 100 in The Lawyer 100, posted a turnover of £9.9m in 2000-2001. Average profits per partner at IBB stand at a creditable £150,000.
The 21-partner firm is spread across four towns with 50 per cent of its work coming from three sites in Uxbridge.
Although the firm is able to offer services below the cost of City and Reading-based firms, it does not have much cheaper overheads and can struggle to retain staff. How, then, will it manage to grow? Booth hopes that the current trend away from commuting will continue and believes that IBB can provide greater management involvement. Booth says: “We will increase our hourly rate by attracting better quality work. I also expect a 25 per cent increase of staff within three years.”
Booth says: “[Uxbridge] is rapidly rising as a commercial centre on the western periphery of London. We do a lot of very serious heavyweight crime in Slough. We're one of a few firms on the high-cost case panel.” However, IBB has yet to receive any work from the panel as it is not referring.
Booth says: “We're already doing this kind of work. Once you develop a reputation for having the expertise, organisational skills and resources it gets to be self-fulfiling.” The Chesham office deals with private client and Ingatestone handles property.
Booth says: “The problem with the geographical areas we practice in is there is no defined centre. It is no good us saying we want to be the leading player in Uxbridge. So what? We are acting for three or four banks now that came about by them seeing us involved in other transactions. There is no one of comparable size and structure to us, with the same depth of expertise in the area.”
Partner Martin Silverman completed a £11m acquisition of a portfolio of 19 brown-field sites from Lafarge Aggregates on behalf on Lands Improvement Holdings in June 2001. The sites were acquired for their planning potential. The transaction documentation included complex overage arrangements allowing Lafarge to benefit from future value increases.
Silverman says: “To get that agreement involves weeks and weeks of negotiation. It is more and more the fashion to do this. People want these overage clauses rather than walking away with hope value. No two are going to be the same.”
Commercial litigation partner Andrew Olins has recently succeeded in defeating a £1m landlord's end of term dilapidations claim for CGNU. Booth says: “It revolved around the clauses in the lease and the way in which dilapidations are calculated.”
New recruits are partner Anila Preston from the Preston Partnership in Henley, who joined at the beginning of this year bringing clients including URS Corporation, Hastings Direct and the Medical Education Network with her. Tim Adams joined as an associate in summer 2001 from Clifton Ingram, as did Tessa Naylor from Olswang.