Ince & Co
UK Top 200 position: 38
As in previous years, The Lawyer has estimated the majority of Ince & Co’s 2011–12 figures based on numerous conversations with market sources and the six per cent turnover increase to £91.6m for 2011–12 that the firm reported.
In May 2011, the Ince & Co partnership in the UK converted to a limited liability partnership (LLP). At the same time, its overseas offices also converted to an LLP or similar vehicles where the local jurisdiction’s regulatory regime allowed.
Since then, the management structure of the firm has changed considerably with a newly formed board, providing leadership and strategic planning for the partnership, as well as the appointment of Prof Stephen Mason as non-executive director.
The conservative firm is underpinned by organic growth, internal promotions and high-end clients in a tight strategy centred on shipping, offshore energy and insurance. The inter-related sectors give Ince a niche offering, out of which has spawned international trade and aviation.
Managing partner James Wilson said 2011–12 was a year of steady growth after flat turnover in 2010–11 boosted by the success of lateral hires in London and overseas client-focused sector advancement.
Historically, Ince has rarely dipped into the lateral hire market, with around 85 per cent of its partnership home grown, but 2011–12 did see management snap up several opportunities when they cropped up.
Ince took partner Nilam Sharma from US firm Crowell & Moring to head up the liability practice, snapped up sought-after legacy Barlow Lyde & Gilbert insurance duo Simon Cooper and Kiran Soa in October 2011 and brought in Nick Gibbons from Speechly Bircham as a TMT partner in the insurance group. In January 2012, Tanya Nash joined the business and finance group in London as a partner from SNR Denton.
The recruitment helped bolster London’s turnover, which was up almost eight per cent from £53m in 2010–11 to £57.1m in 2011–12. In December 2012, the firm continued its hiring streak and appointed former Clyde & Co partner Richard Britain as head of its corporate insurance practice.
On the flip side, in November 2011 Ince lost a team of four from its Hamburg office to set up shipping boutique Fleet Hamburg. The group was led by partner Axel Salander, who helped found Ince’s Hamburg office, and featured lawyers Dharshini Bandara, Philipp Drömann and Ann-Kathrin Burchard.
However, Germany remains one of Ince’s most important markets, while Hamburg remains up in revenue year on year, having promoted four lawyers to the partnership in 2011–12 and having welcomed back Dr Markus Eichhorst from the judiciary.
On top of the hires, in August 2011 Ince opened an office in Monaco at a point where the firm’s shipping and energy clients are looking for jurisdictions with better trading and fiscal conditions.
Ince also opened a third Greater China office in Beijing in July 2012 in the same conservative style: one partner in a low-cost, low-profile office with the potential to expand organically.
Wilson says both should pay for themselves over 12 months and turn a profit in 18 months. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) at Ince was estimated to be up four per cent from £552,000 to £575,000 last year with a similar increase in the equity spread. Net profit held firm at 32 per cent.
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