Southampton stalwart Paris Smith & Randall is celebrating its 190th birthday this year. Despite its age, senior partner Richard Smith, who has been at the helm as managing and senior partner for more than 10 years, insists that the firm is thoroughly modern.
The firm’s attitude to growth is certainly modern – the firm has had to move headquarters three times in 10 years to accommodate its growing band of staff and has also been the subject of around 15 merger approaches, none of which came to anything.
“We’ve debated the various approaches, but it has always broken down because either the other firm wasn’t profitable enough or because their culture wasn’t a match,” says Smith.
If the firm were to merge, its ideal merger partner would be a smaller player. But, as Smith says: “We’re always open to discussions and offers.”
Smith believes Southampton is an attractive market because it boasts the regional headquarters of all the major accountants and banks, which feed much local business.
That said, the bulk of the firm’s revenues – around a third – come from commercial property, followed by the smaller company commercial, dispute resolution, family and tax and estates practices, which each make up between 12 and 14 per cent.
Paris Smith does benefit from the type of work generated by Southampton’s banks and accountants, and according to Smith, much of the drive forward in the past 18 months has been due to finance work, which is presided over by partner and head of commercial Andrew Heathcock.
Paris Smith made up three associates to partner in the last promotions round, resulting in a total partnership of 26, of whom 14 are equity partners. Equity spread ranges from £135,000 to £232,000.
The firm has had a steady financial year, which coincides with the calendar year, and, despite difficulties in the markets generally, is on budget to see turnover increase by almost 20 per cent to £14m.
For the future, Smith envisages scaling up to a £20m operation within the next three years. “We’ve built up a respectable profile here in the South but we intend to get bigger,” he says.
Firm: Paris Smith & Randall
Senior partner: Richard Smith
No of partners: 26
No of equity partners: 14
No of fee-earners: 99
No of qualified lawyers: 65
Main practice areas: Dispute resolution, commercial, tax and estates, family, employment, property
Key clients: The Co-op Group, Orchard Homes, Southampton FC, Vosper Thornycroft
Number of offices: One