They do things differently at Taylor Vinters, and it seems to be working. The Cambridge-based firm broke the £10m turnover barrier for the first time during the last financial year, despite a difficult corporate and commercial market.
According to managing partner Christine Berry, the growth in turnover has been driven by an increase in restructuring work, the firm's expansion of its private client practice and a buoyant local property market.
The commercial property department is more than 20-strong and is one of the largest in the region. It was boosted last August with the arrival of Oliver Chapman from City-based Reed Smith Warner Cranston.
Given the region's high-tech reputation, it is perhaps surprising that a considerable portion of the firm's recent growth has come from private client work. Unlike some Cambridge rivals that have gone after more lucrative corporate and commercial business, Taylor Vinters has unfashionably stuck with its private
clients. “Several firms bailed out of private client work some years ago, but we have stayed very firmly with it and have in fact been building it up. It did exceptionally well last year,” says Berry.
The firm also launched a matrimonial team three years ago, now headed by partner Jackie Wells. Berry is confident there is further growth to come for the three-lawyer team.
The technology practice has also expanded. In November 2002, it recruited partner Simon Smith from Osborne Clarke's City office to head the team with barrister and biochemist David Rainsford and two junior lawyers.
Berry pinpoints technology, in particular food science and biotechnology – two of the region's key business clusters – as a significant growth area for the firm, tying in with its traditional strengths in both general technology and agriculture.
Along with the East of England Development Agency, Business Links and FoodFen, it initiated the East of England Food Industry Conference. Berry says: “There's as much entrepreneurial flair in the food sector as there is in technology or biotechnology. It's constantly moving forwards in different but just as exciting ways, but it tends to get overlooked by the more whizzy things that have been happening elsewhere in the technology sector.”
The firm has been advising biotech client Genzyme during its investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over the past 12 months. The OFT initially found against Genzyme, fining the company £6.8m, but the decision is being appealed to the Competition Commission Appeals Tribunal later this year. It was also involved in advising the shareholders in the £20m May Gurney management buyout at the end of 2001.
New on the client list are Dr Reddy's Laboratories, a $300m (£181.6m) turnover pharmaceutical company listed on the Indian and New York stock exchanges, and HSBC and Bank of Scotland.
Berry says: “My term as managing partner runs until April 2005 and I'm expecting us to be somewhere close to £14m turnover by then. It's fairly ambitious, but given last year's performance we're confident we can achieve it.”
Chairman: Gerard Chadwick
Managing partner: Christine Berry
Equity partners: 15
Total number of partners: 28
Total lawyers (excluding trainees, paralegals and legal executives): 60
Main practice areas: corporate/ commercial, technology and private client
Key clients: HSBC, Bank of Scotland, RBS/NatWest, Genzyme, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, Bayer Cropscience, Sanger Centre, Dr Reddy's Laboratories