Regional firm Hewitsons’ main practice areas are corporate, property and private client.
For a regional firm, such a focus might look like a recipe for financial disaster, given the economic climate. But a diverse range of clients and a buoyant real estate market in Cambridge have helped provide the firm with a solid pipeline of deals.
“What’s characterised the past six months for our office is PPPs on major infrastructure projects,” says John Dix, who has been managing partner at the firm since 2004.
Standout projects include advising the Medical Research Council on the development of a £190m molecular biology laboratory near Adenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and, as a member of the UK Centre for Research and Innovation, on developing a £600m research centre in St Pancras.
As well as public sector work, the firm has had a stream of commercial work. In October 2010 Hewitsons advised mapping technology company 1Spatial on its AIM listing, and also acts for BAA Stansted on real estate matters.
Being headquartered in Cambridge helps. The city seemed to buck the downward trend in real estate that left teams in London firms struggling to fill their days – Hewitsons’ residential property team has become one of the firm’s most profitable.
That said, the 40-partner firm couldn’t escape the downturn completely. Hewitsons posted a turnover of £13.7m in 2009-10. That was down by 13.3 per cent on the previous year’s £15.8m. The firm also shed staff, with headcount down to 215 from 260 a year ago. But it is rebuilding, recently bulking up its employment team with partner Clare Waller from HRJ Law, and Dix says there are more hires on the way.
Managing partner:John Dix
Number of partners:40
Number of equity partners:20
Number of lawyers:97
Number of fee-earners:114
Number of offices:Three
Locations:Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton
Main practice areas:Corporate, property, private client
Key clients: BAA Stansted, Medical Research Council, Homes and Communities Agency