Over the past decade Clyde & Co has undergone a massive transformation, doubling in size twice. In 2005 the firm’s turnover stood at £125m and it boasted 13 offices. By 2015, revenue at the award-winning firm had soared by 316 per cent to £395m and Clydes operated from 45 offices globally.
During the 2014/15 financial year alone, turnover grew by 8 per cent, from £366m. This has since been followed by a further 13 per cent growth, which led to Clydes’ highest ever revenue of £447.3m.
Last year was not all about the firm’s financial growth but also saw Clydes pull off a merger with Scotland’s heavyweight Simpson & Marwick. The merger allowed Clydes to meet its clients’ needs by providing technically excellent service from a lower cost base.
“From a UK perspective, we’re increasingly seeing demand to carry out work from regional hubs and locations outside London,” says senior partner James Burns. “Clyde & Co has been in Manchester for five years or so and we now have 400 people in that office.
“The ability to have conversations with clients about servicing their regional business and to have discussions about what we can do with them north of the border in Scotland is something that is fundamental to our approach to the relationships with key clients.”
While the Simpson & Marwick merger greatly increased the firm’s offering in the UK regions, Clydes has not shied away from increasing its global footprint. The firm has been in the US for 10 years and recently cemented its place in the North American landscape by merging with Miami-based litigation boutique Thornton Davis Fein.
“The ability to have conversations with clients about servicing their regional business is fundamental to our approach”
In February, Clydes also boosted its Asia-Pac offering after hiring a 30 strong insurance team from Australian firm Lee & Lyons. Two further insurance appointments saw the firm’s presence in the region grow by a fifth since January 2015.
Clydes has built its business on its three-pillar strategy of focusing on insurance, core global sectors and emerging markets.
As the firm has grown in size it has also looked to become more innovative in the way it deals with clients. A major part of this strategy has been the introduction of Clydes’ global key client account programme, which gives clients access to unlimited, round-the-clock advice that anticipates legal issues that may arise from their business models.
Initially the programme was focused on Clydes’ eight biggest clients, but the firm is now trying to expand the scheme to include 20 key clients.
After consultation with its clients, Clydes also adopts a wide range of innovative pricing structures to complement the various working practices that come with different businesses. The firm has adapted its e-billing system, which has allowed it to reduce the amount it charges clients due to the cost savings the technology creates.
Changes in leadership
Last year, Clydes made numerous changes to its leadership team. In the UK, litigation specialist Helen Bourne and healthcare sector group head Claire Petts joined the board, while in the US, insurance litigator Barbara Almeida and insurance specialist Joan D’Ambrosio also gained seats in the boardroom.
“It’s important to invest in new talent and bring younger partners into senior management positions,” says Burns. “I was given an opportunity 15 years ago by the firm and it significantly benefited me – and hopefully the firm as well.
“We want to encourage our best lawyers to
be involved in management and management projects at an early stage in their careers. To bring people through, like Claire, Helen, Barbara and Joan, is important to our strategic planning for the future and our succession.”
The moves also greatly increased the diversity within Clydes’ senior management, but the firm has been looking to do this at all levels of its business. Clydes overhauled its diversity and inclusion programme and appointed Pauline Caldwell to the position of global HR director to conduct a root and branch review of the firm’s diversity programme.
The judges were impressed by Clydes’ expansion strategy, which took it from a shipping and insurance practice to a firm capable of “multi-faceted, big-ticket work”.
“You can’t help but be impressed by the firm’s extensive, yet targeted growth,” one judge says. “It’s cemented its position as number one in the insurance market on a global footing.”
Another judge commends Clydes’ “clear vision and strategy”, stating that it had been “superbly implemented and has produced impressive financial results”.
One judge adds: “Innovation and flexibility have clearly been demonstrated in Clydes’ client servicing and pricing, and the firm is (obviously) pre-eminent in its field. It also has hugely impressive talent development programmes including apprenticeships.”