Taking an active part in the Thames Gateway Regeneration project, Thomson Snell & Passmore often comments on how the plan is progressing.
The firm opened its Greenhithe office three years ago to capitalise on the ongoing regeneration of the area and, while its success is by no means dependant on the business development scheme, in difficult times it could really help.
Over the past three years Thomson Snell’s turnover has increased by £1m a year, reaching £14m for 2007-08, but managing partner James Partridge expects that to decline over 2008.
“The rush hasn’t arrived yet,” he says. “But we found that it was a pretty fertile ground anyway.”
‘Fertile’ is the kind of word Partridge would like to be using more often. The firm has noticed a dip in work over the past 12 months and made two redundancies last autumn as a result.
Despite this, Partridge remains resilient and has made a key partner hire to boost a recession-proof practice area, with Fiona Mills joining from Pictons as a partner in the clinical negligence team.
“We’re trying to not get blown completely off course and the small restructuring we’ve had to do has been designed to make sure we come out of this environment stronger,” says Partridge. “We’ve got to the point where we’re nervous about moving too far from what we know. Diversification among the lawyers, however, is a good idea. Lawyers can become too narrow and get tunnel vision. I find that when we’re working with larger firms we’ll meet a lawyer who’s a wizard at pensions, for example, but he won’t be knowledgeable around the subject.”
To get a closer understanding of what its clients think, Thomson Snell undertook a survey and was pleased with the results, which are currently being presented to the firm.
“We came out of it very well,” says Partridge. “It was good news overall.”