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Despite the axing of Walker Morris’ matrimonial practice in 2007 and the sale of its unfashionable volume business in 2006, the firm’s turnover and average profit per equity partner (PEP) have barely increased this year (see story, 2 June 2008)
Then again, the firm’s single-site operation still records some of the best PEP in Leeds (£672,000) for its 40 odd partners, who are known in the market to be particularly adept at managing the size of their equity club and its costs.
Walker Morris’ commercial property and planning departments, which make up a fifth of the firm’s turnover, unsurprisingly tanked this year, no doubt dragging down the impressive performance in corporate, banking and dispute resolution.
However it is surprising that the profits are taking so long to benefit from the ditching of the firm’s volume business in August 2006.
Sure, volume businesses are notoriously difficult to manage (especially for lawyers not necessarily trained in the cut-throat business savvy required for their management).
On top of that, squeezed margins in an increasingly competitive market, coupled with a downturn in much of commoditised work such as conveyancing and mortgages, and the ever-present phobia of ‘Tesco Law’ in the sector can not have made life with the volume business easy.
A sale of the venture in August 2006 may have been the only choice to make.
But chairman Peter Smart claims that a lot of overheads from the business are still hitting the profits.
He explained that the excess former volume business office space and fixtures have recently finally been ditched, and that he wants the firm to grown into the excess accounting staff capacity left over from the volume business instead of simply sacking them.
Here’s hoping Walker Morris’ PEP will finally adjust to the new realities next year.
27-June-2008, Walker Morris: Turn down the volume
27-June-2008, Hill Dickinson: A tale of two cities
20-June-2008, LG: “frustrating and disappointing”
13-June-2008, Trowers & Hamlins: set back, or de-railed?
12-June-2008, Stephenson Hardwood: joining the club
11-June-2008, Ward Hadaway, Leeds and Hoyle: the long game
10-June-2008, Lewis Silkin: credit where due?
09-June-2008, Freshfields: equity cull pays off
06-June-2008, Martineau Johnson: mission accomplished?
05-June-2008, Addleshaw Goddard: babies and bathwater
04-June-2008, Technology firms: RPP reveals all
02-June-2008, The magic circle – a new ring leader to emerge?
30-May-2008, Berwin Leighton Paisner: could do better
29-May-2008, Links to take CC’s crown?
28-May-2008, FFW: surprise performer
22-May-2008, Herbert Smith lays down the gauntlet
19-May-2008, Second tier is out to impress