Winckworth Sherwood: Roger Fitton” />As one of only a handful of firms permitted to introduce private bills in parliament, Winckworth Sherwood has some stellar clients on its roster. Despite having only 28 partners, the Westminster-based firm routinely acts for Sainsbury’s, BP, Network Rail, the Church of England and the British Government.
It recently represented the Government on one of the country’s largest infrastructure schemes – the Crossrail rail link connecting East and West London, helping to secure a vital piece of legislation to enable the project to go ahead.
But Winckworth Sherwood is more than just a firm of parliamentary agents. This type of work accounts for just £1m in a turnover of around £20m. The firm also punches above its weight in the real estate sector, where it represents major housebuilders, housing associations and telecommunications clients mainly in the South East.
And with the flow of money from central government showing no signs of drying up, managing partner Roger Fitton is optimistic about the firm’s future in a difficult economic climate.
“To my surprise, what’s going on in the markets hasn’t yet affected us,” he says. “There’s so much public money involved that until the Treasury runs out of money, a lot of these projects will keep on running.”
Winckworth Sherwood was founded more than 200 years ago by John Ellis and George Crawley to service clients based in Westminster. It underwent several transformations before Winckworth & Pemberton merged with parliamentary agents Sherwood & Co in 1991.
The firm remains based in Westminster where the main office is located. The small branches in Chelmsford, Oxford and the City of London exist solely to service one of its largest clients, the Church of England, which requires legal representatives to have a presence in the areas it works in. Winckworth Sherwood advises the church on property law, charity law and ecclesiastical law, generating around £2m a year.
With several years of steady growth at around 17 per cent, the firm is soon to move into new offices to accommodate its growing practice. It is also in the process of converting to an LLP, making 2008 a busy year for Fitton, whose term as managing partner runs until 2010. He hopes the move will help the firm’s recruitment drive (it made four lateral hires last year).
“So much of the legal profession is already doing it, you put yourselves at a disadvantage if you don’t,” he adds.
Managing partner: Roger Fitton
Number of partners: 28
Number of fee-earners: 200
Main practice areas: Real estate, social housing, planning, parliamentary, transport, commercial, ecclesiastical, private client, licensing, dispute resolution and employment
Key clients: Abbey National, Network Rail, Metropolitan Police Authority, Church of England, BP
Number of offices:Four