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Last year Berryman Shacklock lost an office, but turnover remains healthy
Nottingham firm Berryman Shacklock has had a busy couple of years. In November 1999, Berryman & Co merged with Shacklocks, creating one of the largest firms in the East Midlands. It then had 17 partners. Just one year later, the Mansfield office of Shacklocks, consisting of six partners, broke away to operate under its own steam. Somehow the firm has managed to maintain turnover of around £4m throughout the upheaval, and this might have something to do with new managing partner Andrew Matthews. Matthews has been with the firm for 10 years, and became managing partner in November 2000. One of the first things on his agenda was to set up a development committee, alleviating some of the management pressure from the other partners. Matthews, along with Patrick Billyeald and Virginia Harvey, controls the direction of growth. He says: "I've not come across a buzz or feeling of unification among the partners and staff anywhere else before. I think people realise that there is a hell of a market to go at here. It's an exciting business challenge." Matthews says that recruitment is a good indication of reputation and says that he is finding it increasingly straightforward to hire quality staff. Two partners, Anne Robinson and John Pears, are due to join Berryman next year from Nottingham firm Warren & Allen. They are currently serving six months notice. Richard Jackson, formerly head of private client at Bedford firm Park Woodfine, joined in January. Other new recruits in the last six months include former chartered surveyor John Kelly, now a lawyer in the construction department, and accountant Ian Stanton to the insolvency team. With the firm due for accreditation to Investors in People in January, Matthews says: "I believe passionately in all that. If you've got people who enjoy coming here, they're going to be more stretched and more productive. To make that happen you have to be human and allow people who are good to do their own thing. You can't be old-fashioned in the way you manage." Former managing partner Charles Harrington said he thought the merger would push the firm closer to the top five in the region (The Lawyer, 18 October 1999). Matthews believes they are on the right path, but that there is a long way to go. New clients include Melton Medes, Vision Express, Bank of Scotland, and Nottingham City and County Councils. The firm is also on the panel for Cornhill Insurance. Recent transactions include the £3m management buyout of First Rental and a £3m development finance project for Bank of Scotland. Key areas for growth are insurance, property, corporate and high net worth private client. Matthews says: "Another area that is a little bit different is corporate immigration. It provides services to two or three clients for work permits and the like. It is headed by Tal Vasishta. "I think one of the problems with law firms is that there is too much muttering about where a firm has come from. It's where you are at the moment and where you are going to that's important. It's a business," he says. Matthews will need to ensure stability at the firm if he is to achieve his target of 50 per cent turnover growth in the next two years.