Midlands-based Knight & Sons is in the final stages of negotiation with Lovells to join its panel of subcontractors for major client Prudential Property Investment Managers (The Lawyer, 9 October). It will give the 18-partner firm access to a legal spend that runs into millions of pounds a year. Managing partner Ian White says that to be chosen by fellow professionals is the ultimate accolade. He anticipates growth from landlord and tenant work as well as acquisitions and disposals.
This summer, Knights invested heavily in a new network infrastructure as part of an ongoing programme. It will enable the system to integrate with that of Lovells and allow for faster data transfer for all clients. “I hope that we'll become more nationally recognised,” says White.
Careful recruitment is always vital, but for the firm to support its new alliance it will be paramount. So it is not surprising that White thinks it is time to start promoting the West Midlands. “Recruitment into the north Staffordshire area has been difficult for all firms,” says White. “We've taken a policy decision to recruit mostly trainee solicitors from the local area, on the basis that they will want to stay here.” For many years Knights has been dogged by losing good people to the large regional and national firms. White hopes that the Lovells link will help improve the perception of the firm.
Property supplies 40 per cent of the firm's turnover, with the next largest area being tax, trust and private client work. White is keen for the firm to grow across all departments, continuing its policy of organic growth where possible.
Client service standards will be key to the firm as workload develops. There are 34 other fee-earners and seven trainees. Turnover for the year ending last March was £5.3m and the rather cautious projected figure for 2003 is £5.5m. Average profits per partner stand at £130,000.
The corporate team, led by senior partner Derek Miller, completed deals worth £90m in 2001. The sale of share capital in Gardiner-Caldwell Holdings under the new provisions of the Financial Services Market Act 2000 was completed in January 2002. Knights also acts for the London Eye (part of the Tussauds Group); and Hanson, Ibstock and Midland Quarry Products in the niche market of mines and minerals.
White has recently been elected from 10 candidates to the council of the national Law Society. He represents 17,500 commercial property lawyers. It follows the restructuring of the council to ensure better representation. White was also appointed as managing partner of Knights, reducing his fee-earning role to allow him to take on such a commitment. White says: “My success indicates, in part, a desire within the Law Society that influence should be decentralised slightly. Many of the key individuals are from practices outside of London.”