Firm profile: Henmans

Managing partner:

Julie Iball
Turnover: £7.8m
Total number of partners: 21
Total number of fee-earners: 72
Main practice areas: Commercial litigation, employment, personal injury, private client, professional negligence and property
Key clients: BMW, Cancer Research, RSPCA and Guide Dogs for the Blind, and insurers including Hiscox, Zurich and the St Paul.
Number of offices: Two
Location: Oxford and Woodstock

Oxford-based Henmans has doubled in size in the past eight years. “The plan is that we continue to grow in all departments, but particularly professional indemnity and commercial litigation,” says managing partner Julia Iball. “We’re really confident and looking forward to growing both steadily and organically. As opportunities arise, we’re ready to take them.”

Just over half the firm’s workload is split evenly between its professional negligence and personal injury departments. The other two large departments are property (not residential) and private client, including a well-respected charities practice. “We find that this is a good balance for the firm,” she says. “We haven’t chosen to become a company-commercially focused firm, nor have we decided to put all our eggs in the litigation basket.”

However, the firm is capable of undertaking decent commercial work locally. It recently acted for a management buyout vehicle at CBG Consultants. The new management team, financed by Barclays, bought out the former principal shareholder in the building services consultancy, which has a turnover of more than £2m.

So, does the firm regard itself as a regional or national practice? “It depends on which practice area you look at,” says Iball. “As far as litigation and professional negligence goes, we’re in competition with the national firms and are pre-eminent in this area geographically.”

The firm is acting for Manchester-based law firm Rowe Cohen in the massive litigation over failed personal injury firm The Accident Group (TAG). Rowe Cohen was TAG’s main vetting solicitor. “If you look at property, although we act for estates all over the country, I would say that we’re absolutely pre-eminent in Oxfordshire and our competitors are in Bristol, Southampton and London,” Iball says.

Earlier in the year, Henmans was included in the top 10 firms in the country offering services to charities, according to the Caritas Top 3000 Charities directory. The firm includes among its clients household names such as Cancer Research, Help the Aged, Oxfam, the RSPCA and Save the Children.

The firm is proud of its culture and Iball points out that 10 of the firm’s 21 partners are women. “We haven’t had to have an equal opportunities policy to make it happen because it’s part of the firm’s ethos,” she says. “I’ve been with the firm for my entire career. I’ve had my children, come back and worked part-time and now I’m managing partner. We’re a meritocracy.”