Foot Anstey Solicitors is the largest firm in the Cornwall, Devon and Somerset region. It is also on the cusp of breaking into The Lawyer UK200 Annual Report.
Last year turnover at the firm rose by 4 per cent, from £19.4m to £20.1m, although average profit fell, largely as a result of two rounds of redundancies and a move to new premises at Salt Quay House in Plymouth.
“I think it’s a very respectable result in what’s been a year of very difficult trading conditions,” says managing partner John Westwell. The downturn has been felt most keenly in commercial property, which Westwell admits had a “difficult” year. Corporate and commercial has also found it tough going, although Westwell says the firm is now seeing some return on its recent heavy investment in this area.
Last September Foot Anstey recruited Osborne Clarke associate Chris Worrell as a partner to beef up the corporate team. Other areas into which the firm has recruited recently include pensions (K&L Gates associate Comron Rowe) and construction (former Shadbolt partner Chris Hoar). “It’s part of our strategy to offer our corporate clients the full range of corporate services,” insists Westwell.
He is referring to the new five-year strategy Foot Anstey introduced on 1 May. This will see the firm focus on organic growth in its four key centres (Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro) along with a greater push to work with national clients.
Recent client wins include Criterion Capital, Which?, Screwfix and Johnston Press. The latter is indicative of another key area for the firm – media.
“We act for three of the four largest regional publishers in the UK,” adds Westwell.
To that end, in March this year the firm entered into an arrangement featuring cross-secondments with media company Twofour Group aimed at gaining a better understanding of its clients’ businesses.
Firm: Foot Anstey Solicitors
Managing partner: John Westwell
Number of partners: 41
Number of equity partners: 17
Number of lawyers: 105
Number of fee-earners: 167
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton, Truro
Main practice areas: Corporate, commercial, real estate, commercial litigation, employment, clinical negligence
Clients: Daily Mail and General Trust, Johnston Press, Twofour Group, The Wrigley Company