Firm profile: EMW Law

EMW Law has consolidated its four offices into one Milton Keynes location, from where it will attack London in a pincer movement.

EMW Law” />Milton Keynes may not have featured in military histories to date, but emw law has consolidated its four offices into one Milton Keynes location, from where it will attack London in a pincer movement when it opens up offices in satellite cities such as Reading, Bristol and Crawley.

Under the auspices of energetic chief executive Joy Vollans (one of The Lawyer’s 2008 Hot 100) and chairman Ian Morris, the firm’s turnover has grown by almost a third in 2007 to £9.3m, with profit more than doubling to a staggering £2.4m. Average profit per equity partner now sits pretty at £269,164, up from £199,595 in 2006.

Vollans claims that companies are increasingly looking for cost-effective alternatives to the big London firms for certain types of work and that emw can undercut rates with Milton Keynes’ lower overheads.

With this model, the firm increasingly finds itself acting opposite the top 20 London firms. It has also done well on the panel front, finding itself on the legal panels of Barclays and Abbey. Nationwide, HBOS and other banks also regularly instruct emw for property, lending and other work, and on the corporate front it works with companies such as Electrolux, Travis Perkins and Cognita Group, a private equity-backed buyer of schools.

The firm is currently 170th in The Lawyer’s 2007 UK league tables, but Vollans hopes to drive it into the top 100 within the next five years. In short, emw wants to become one of the “major regional players”, she says.

Around a third of that growth is planned to happen under emw’s own steam, with the rest to be made up with suitable merger partners.

Vollans and Morris say the firm is considering new offices in Reading, Bristol and Crawley, from where they believe it can make an impression on the London market. They say they are “increasingly seen as a credible alternative to mid-tier London firms”.

The main business for the firm is split between property work (making up roughly a third of total business), property finance work (making up a tenth), corporate, venture capital and banking (making up another third) and employment, dispute resolution and technology, media and telecoms (making up the remaining fifth).

The firm appears to be pursuing an interesting, and thus far successful, strategy. Oddly, its branding – all in lower case as emw law – harks back to the less fortunate dotcom days. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Chief executive: Joy Vollans (left)


Ian Morris



Total number of partners:


Total number of lawyers:


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Main practice areas:

Property, corporate, banking

Key clients:

Abbey, Barclays, HBOS, Nationwide, Travis Perkins

Number of offices:



Milton Keynes