A year on from the merger, Addleshaw Goddard looks to be a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Although turnover of the combined Addleshaw Booth & Co and Theodore Goddard dropped by more than £5m at the merged firm, costs have also been slashed and profits are up. It bodes well for the coming years and is a testament to the charming ruthlessness of managing partner Mark Jones. Few law firm heads have such a clear grasp of the fundamentals, or are as willing to be transparent about the business they run. In Jones’s capable hands, the future at Addleshaws looks bright.
Berwin Leighton Paisner
Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) management team, led by Neville Eisenberg, has really started to deliver on the merger of three years ago. Profits leapt by 40 per cent this year, partly because of an increase in the quality of work, but also helped by tight financial management; despite its large real estate department, lock-up is well under control. The international question was solved by the link-up with New York firm Kramer Levin, which will become an increasingly important component for BLP as it starts to attack the higher end of the mid-market. The firm has consciously aimed at building corporate and finance through judicious lateral hiring, resulting in the firm having a much better balance of practice areas.
CMS Cameron McKenna
CMS Cameron McKenna’s management team has succeeded in quietly transforming its business. Having realised early that its far-flung outposts in Hong Kong and Washington DC had outlived their strategic usefulness to the business, the management set about scaling down overseas. Indeed, Richard Price and Dick Tyler have effected a discreet evolution. Now firmly repositioned as a European firm, Camerons has managed to ditch some historical baggage without any internal fisticuffs, by quietly phasing out the salaried partner layer. This has been achieved without denting the bottom line, with profits up by nearly 10 per cent.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields’ management (co-senior partner Konstantin Mettenheimer) has delivered consistent results with a clear commitment to quality, an ethos underlined by its refusal to deviate from an all-equity partnership. Integrating the two dominant businesses of the UK and Germany has been done with an eye on the long term, hence the softly-softly approach to melding the two legacy equity points systems for partners. Former chief executive Alan Peck and current boss Hugh Crisp have embarked on a bold push in finance, and rewrote the firm’s Asia strategy this year by closing Bangkok. A traditional partnership ethos can be cosy, but Freshfields’ management shows that it can make tough decisions with the best of them.
Pannone & Partners
Led by managing partner Joy Kingsley, Pannones’ management team has guided the firm to a record turnover (almost hitting the £30m mark) and profits over the past year. Pannones has won a series of new clients and instructions, particularly in the private client area, where the firm specialises in Court of Protection cases. Employees voted Pannones sixth in The Sunday Times’ list of the best 100 companies to work for, a reflection of the investment the firm makes both in its lawyers and staff as well as support functions such as IT. Feedback confirms that the investment enables the firm to provide a significantly smoother and more efficient client service.
Shoosmiths grabbed the headlines earlier this year when it announced a breathtaking set of results. Partners were celebrating news of a dazzling 67 per cent profits increase, with the equity pool remaining stable at 35 partners. It was a spectacular turnaround from 2002-03, when investment in the firm’s Birmingham office saw profits slump by 30 per cent. However, the six-partner office, which specialises in property and construction work, is expected to become profitable this year. Chief executive Paul Stothard attributed the results to tight financial management and a series of client wins. These include national property instructions from furniture giant Ikea and commercial work for Thomas Cook and Danone.