The partnership of Manchester-based Wacks Caller has had a turbulent year, but the end result, according to senior and managing partner Martin Caller, is a record year.
The firm was established in 1986 by Caller and Arran Wacks. Caller is an ex-partner of Manchester firm Linder Myers, while Wacks, who now has a consultancy role, came from Halliwell Landau via his own firm Wacks & Co.
Growth remained modest until the late 1990s, but recently the partnership has witnessed significant upheaval.
Following alleged disagreements over the firm's strategy and the distribution of equity, four partners have quit the firm since September 2002. Those losses, though, have been offset by recent partner level arrivals, as well as recruitment at the junior end.
Out of the door have gone corporate partner Simon Wallwork, who left in September for Pannone & Partners, insolvency specialist Glyn Willmott, who joined Weightman Vizards, and a bad three months continued in November when property partner Chris Parkinson joined DLA as an associate. In May this year another property specialist, Joe Johnston, joined Weightman Vizards as a partner.
Heading the list of those coming through the partnership gates has been Richard Chandler, who joined from Addleshaw Booth & Co (now Addleshaw Goddard). Chandler has been brought in to spearhead the development of a specialist banking team.
In addition, the partnership has been bolstered by the arrivals of John Gower-Jones from DWF, Jennifer Clarke from Beachcroft Wansbroughs and Gareth Dodds, who left DLA to head up Wacks Caller's corporate recovery team.
The end result is a 17-partner firm that has apparently posted record financial results. Caller will not disclose the firm's figures, but claims that turnover is up by an impressive 24 per cent and profits by 25 per cent.
“Given the state of the market – particularly quoted company activity in the corporate finance sector – we're delighted with our performance; and looking ahead, we're forecasting further growth in the current year,” says Caller.
The firm's recent deals list is solid and includes: advising the management of the Scarlett Retail investment vehicle on the £161m cash acquisition of Allders by Minerva; advising the directors of the Range Cooker Company on a £23m cash sale to Britannia Living; and advising the vendors of Transform Holdings on a £21m disposal.
Among the firm's blue chip clients are Manpower, car giant Vauxhall, health and fitness chain Total Fitness, Modus Developments, night club operator Cream and the Revolution wine bar group.
Additionally, Wacks Caller is poised to take centre stage in a legal battle for a slice of opera singer Russell Watson's multimillion-pound fortune. The firm is representing businessman Ian Boasman, who claims he was instrumental in transforming Watson from a Salford cabaret club act into the international star known as 'The Voice'.
Caller believes market conditions are relatively buoyant in Manchester because the regions tend to have lower peaks and shallower troughs than London. “We've always been focused on sticking to what we know we're good at and not attempting to do anything else,” he says. “We bring in the people first and the work second, rather than the other way round.”
The business is built around the core specialisms of commercial property and employment law, commercial litigation and corporate finance, which is the bedrock of the firm's reputation.
The employment department has been built up from an embryonic entity three years ago to a significant chunk of the business, which this year registered a growth in turnover of 47 per cent.