Managing partner: Paul Berwin
Total number of equity partners: Seven
Total number of fee-earners: 17
Main practice areas: Commercial, litigation, property, private client
Key clients: Datacraft Design, King Asia Foods, Lincare Holdings
Number of offices: One
“We always try to be ahead of the game,” declares Paul Berwin, founding and managing partner of Harrogate-based firm Berwins.
Berwins may be a much smaller operation than either firm, but that has not stopped it blazing a trail. Berwin talks with pride as he tells of the firm’s conversion to limited-liability partnership status back in 2002 and becoming the fifth-ever firm in the UK to get Lexcel accreditation. Not bad for an outfit that is less than 15 years old.
Berwins was founded in 1993 with a staff of five and Berwin worked as a sole practitioner for the first five years. The firm now has close on 50 staff, including seven partners and 17 fee-earners.
The firm offers a broad scope of legal services, including corporate, property, litigation and private client.
Berwin himself is a corporate lawyer and says activity in this area is particularly buoyant. “We’re in the middle of our most interesting period commercially. The scale of acquisitions has been increasing exponentially,” he says.
Commercial property is also booming for Berwins and the firm recently promoted specialist Rachel Dunlop to its partnership to head the commercial property team.
Berwins does not just rely on organic growth to increase its size. It has undergone a series of mergers over the years, including with Myers & Co in 2002. More recently it brought in specialist Justin Marks, from Manchester firm George Davies, to lead its employment department.
Berwin says that this year the firm is busier across the board and will probably see more growth.
The firm has identified private client, litigation and commercial as areas for expansion, while Berwin himself has already carved out a new niche in IP.
With Harrogate so close to Leeds, Berwin admits that the North Yorkshire spa town is often overshadowed by its larger rival, but it has made a big effort to carve out a name for itself.
“We’ve worked hard to establish credibility against Leeds firms and our work comes in from a wide geography,” he claims.
As the firm has grown Berwin has had to rebalance its leverage ratio. “In the past [the firm] tended to be partner-heavy, but we’re now getting more junior people in,” he explains.
Despite the differences, Berwins retains “a fraternal link” with its London namesake firms that sees referral work flowing in both directions.