Pictons has not had a stellar financial year, with turnover dropping by 4 per cent from £7m in 2006-07 to £6.7m in the last financial year.
Chairman and head of corporate commercial Roger Talbot says he is far from “over the moon” with the performance, adding that he does not expect revenues to increase in the current financial year.
Despite this, Talbot remains reasonably optimistic, saying: “We feel we’re keeping in good shape in what is a difficult time for the legal profession generally.”
The firm has restructured significantly over the past few months in a bid to mitigate the effects of the changing climate. “We had one of the largest crime departments of the firms in the South East, but decided strategically to exit that area,” explains Talbot.
According to Talbot, the crime practice area has been hit by a lack of government funding over the past 10 years. That exit and other strategic realignments have resulted in the closing of the firm’s Bedford office and others over the years.
In turnover terms, the firm’s largest practice area is property, which accounted for 38 per cent of total revenues during the last financial year. However, it has been hit by the state of the property market, with a number of short-term contracts not being renewed and several redundancies in residential conveyancing.
“People who aren’t [making redundancies] are probably ripe for problems,” says Talbot, adding that the firm is taking a longer-term view and remaining invested in property work. Talbot also believes the property sector will revive, although the firm is not budgeting for this to happen immediately.
In terms of future growth Pictons is focusing on the litigation practice, which has five partners specialising in personal injury and which generated 27 per cent of the total revenue last year.
The firm’s Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead offices are small and house just two partners apiece. In the highly competitive Milton Keynes market the firm undertakes clinical negligence and private client work and in Hemel Hempstead it concentrates on wills, trusts and private client, where it has built up a loyal client base over many years.
In the long term, says Talbot, the Luton office has the greatest potential. “The expansion in the Luton area that’s planned for the next 10 years is very dramatic,” he insists.
Chairman: Roger Talbot
Number of partners: 14
Number of lawyers: 39
Main practice areas: Property, litigation, private client,
Key clients: Monty Panesar, Lloyds TSB, Spicerhaart,
Churchlands, Alert Services, Barnfield College, Accordial Group, DigiCore Holdings, APT Controls, County Hall Entertainment
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Hemel Hampstead, Luton, Milton Keynes