Firm profile: Dickinson Dees

“Fact: we can provide a service that is equal to or better than most major City of London law firms.” This is the declaration on the homepage of North East firm Dickinson Dees’ website.

“We’re selling the message that we’re equal in quality to those City firms,” expands managing partner Neil Braithwaite. “But we’re also providing services at a lower price, plus you get the personal service that those other firms don’t achieve.” The firm, in earlier incarnations, has been advising businesses in Newcastle for 200 years and dominates the local legal market. More recently it has been extending its reach and winning work with the likes of Sainsbury’s and the US Huntsman chemical group, as well as public sector clients such as Leeds City Council. “Our message is well received by many businesses,” reckons Braithwaite.

“Fact: we can provide a service that is equal to or better than most major City of London law firms.” This is the declaration on the homepage of North East firm Dickinson Dees’ website. “We’re selling the message that we’re equal in quality to those City firms,” expands managing partner Neil Braithwaite. “But we’re also providing services at a lower price, plus you get the personal service that those other firms don’t achieve.” The firm, in earlier incarnations, has been advising businesses in Newcastle for 200 years and dominates the local legal market. More recently it has been extending its reach and winning work with the likes of Sainsbury’s and the US Huntsman chemical group, as well as public sector clients such as Leeds City Council. “Our message is well received by many businesses,” reckons Braithwaite.

“We see ourselves as having a national coverage from a North East base,” Braithwaite continues. “One feature of the firm that distinguishes us from others that might superficially seem similar is the breadth of our practice. We cover all the services required for the corporate clients, plus the public sector and the high-net-worth individuals.” The firm won a place on Sainsbury’s panel after acting on the other side in the supermarket’s £22m buyout of local convenience store chain Bells Stores. The firm is also proud of its unstuffy approach to the law. It won 38th place in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Employers in the Country 2004 list.

In terms of the firm’s increasing dominance of the regional market, Braithwaite claims the key feature is its consistency. “The year we’re just concluding will show growth well in excess of 10% in turnover for the tenth consecutive year,” he says. That expansion has been achieved by a slow process of organic growth. Although the firm has three offices, most of its lawyers are based in the main Newcastle Quayside address. “We’re a firm that’s acting out of one office, and that has great advantages,” he says. “We have a team of people who are used to working together, and the fact that they’re all under the one roof means they work together and all our service lines come together to work for the client.” The firm has found a solution as to how to marry its single-office ethos to its growing size. It is presently fitting out new 60,000sq ft offices in the Trinity Gardens development. The offices are due to be completed by July and so all of the firm’s staff will remain together at Newcastle Quayside.

Does the firm plan to build a presence outside the North East? “We deliberately haven’t gone down that route,” Braithwaite says. “We’ve always sought to grow from our base here while continuing to extend our regional coverage of where we get work from.”

Dickinson Dees
Managing partner Neil Braithwaite
Turnover £44m
Total number of partners 64
Total number of solicitors 699
Main practice areas Commercial, private client and public sector
Key clients Abbey, Arriva, Go-Ahead, Grainger Trust, HBOS, Huntsman, Leeds City Council and Northern Rock
Number of offices Three
Location Two offices in Newcastle and one in Stockton-on-Tees

Neil Braithwaite
Managing partner
Dickinson Dees