In the past three to five years South West-based firm Veitch Penny, which recently converted to LLP status, has enjoyed revenue growth of between 5 and 7 per cent.
The indications are that results in this year of Legal Services Act implementation and widely expected market consolidation will be less impressive – the firm is on target for flat revenue growth. But senior partner Mark Fowles says there is no need to panic.
“It’s the unknown – all you can do is approach it with your eyes open,” says Fowles. “Also, we’re not a practice that depends on the high street.”
Time was when Veitch Penny was closer to a traditional general practice. These days that tag is only really appropriate for its one-partner, six-fee-earner Crediton office headed by former senior partner Ian Penny. The firm’s larger Exeter office is a more substantial player, where some 65 per cent of revenue is derived from primarily defendant-side personal injury litigation.
The firm’s niche – publicly funded disputes for clients such as local authorities and other public bodies – is under a massive pricing attack, but Fowles says he is convinced that the firm’s brand
and experience will see it survive the coming storm.
“We’re known for our economy and knowledge of public bodies,” he claims. “We’ll see it through.”
Fowles adds that other parts of his firm’s practice, including conveyancing in the smaller office, are holding up “incredibly well”.
He also addresses any suggestion of a split between the sites. “We don’t think of ourselves as an Exeter firm, although Crediton sees itself as local,” he admits. “But there are no separate profit centres.”
Fowles says the firm has recently been addressing any perception of a split with regular meetings, not all held in Exeter.
Managing partner: Mark Fowles
Number of partners:Six
Number of lawyers:26
Number of fee-earners:30
Number of offices:Two
Locations: Crediton, Exeter
Main practice areas:Commercial property, employment, landlord and tenant, partnerships, personal injury (primarily defendant)
Key clients: Devon County Council, Metropolitan Police, NHS Litigation Authority, Travelers Insurance