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In the last two years Kitson Hutchings has witnessed a sea change in its ability to attract new recruits from outside the South West. "We must be doing something right," says joint managing partner James Cross.
On the back of a successful recruitment strategy, the South Devon firm has recently devised a five-year strategy to double turnover to £10m. "We're attracting people from further afield, and as we get more quality people we're getting more clients," adds joint managing partner Richard Hutchings. "They see joining the firm as an opportunity to get hands-on experience rather than being cogs in the wheel of a machine."
The opening of a Plymouth office last week (21 April) marked the start of Kitson Hutchings' march towards its £10m goal. There are also plans to expand its Exeter office threefold and to move to new offices in Torquay.
Currently the firm's main practice areas are split between its five bases: Torquay covers property, non-contentious and contentious work; Exeter covers insolvency and litigation; Newton Abbot is a general practice; and the new Plymouth office will focus mainly on commercial property, but, adds Cross, "we're looking to add a discipline".
The firm relies on client referrals for the bulk of its work and claims to have built a customer service proposition that keeps the referrals flowing in. Increasingly referrals come from beyond the West Country - something Cross says is a natural consequence of taking in lawyers from outside the region.
Kitson Hutchings perceives itself to be in the growing number of regional firms looking to diversify to take advantage of the changes that will come into force when the Legal Services Act is implemented. "We're open-minded about outside investment," says Hutchings.
The firm is aiming to build niche practices in nursing homes and care homes, professional negligence and shareholder disputes to distinguish itself from its competitors. And with tentative plans for more offices outside the region, Kitson Hutchings has fired a warning shot across the bows of its local rivals.
Managing partners: Andrew Perkins and James Cross Turnover: £5m for 2007 year-end Number of partners: 18 Number of lawyers: 45 Number of fee-earners: 10 Main practice areas: Commercial property, licensing and leisure, commercial litigation Key clients: Galliford Tri Group, Midas Homes, Enterprise Inns Number of offices: Five Locations: Torquay (two offices), Exeter, Plymouth, Newton Abbot