Foot Anstey

UK law firms need to follow the US lead as diversity becomes an increasingly important issue for clients

Foot Anstey” />Managing partner: Jane Lister
Turnover: £14m
Total number of partners: 31
Total number of staff: 150
Key clients: Legal Services Commission, Davenport Management, Lighthouse Group and Wrigley
Key practice areas: Private client, family, commercial property, banking, employment, corporate, IP and IT
Number of offices: Three
Location: Plymouth, Taunton
and Exeter

Foot Anstey has launched an all-out assault on the major league since its May 2005 merger with Alms & Young.

With offices in Plymouth, Taunton and Exeter, the firm has aspirations of becoming a powerhouse in the South West and is already well on its way to achieving its goal after doubling the size of its Taunton office over the past nine months.

Turnover at the end of the 2004-05 financial year was £11.4m and projections for this year are between £14m and £15m. During the next five years the firm is aiming to significantly increase its turnover to £22m, potentially seeing it enter The Lawyer’s UK 100.

Managing partner Jane Lister says the secret of the firm’s success has been to remain focused on specific areas of growth.

“We hope to be the premier firm in the South West; that has always been our overall aim,” she says. “Everyone knows the direction they’re headed and have really just put their heads down and got on with it.

“We hope to eventually have more offices in the South West, but it will be some time before that happens.”

So far the effort is paying off and the firm is growing quickly. During the past few months alone it has attracted teams of lawyers specialising in clinical negligence and family law. The majority of these lateral hires have moved from Clarke Willmott.

Specialising in three key areas – business services, individuals and legal aid – the firm provides a full service in areas such as insolvency, IP, IT, corporate and family law.

Foot Anstey also has a strong private client practice and recently boosted its property services department with the appointment of four town planners to work in tandem with its lawyers.

Lister says the planners will work in the firm’s property development team, which is a growth area for the practice. “It’s one of the biggest planning teams outside Bristol,” she says.

Foot Anstey has a long history, but it really started to take off in 2000 when Exeter-based Anstey Sargent & Probert merged with Plymouth firm Foot & Bowden.

In May last year the firm merged with Taunton-based Alms & Young, catapulting Foot Anstey into the UK’s top 150 firms.

The Taunton office has grown so much that the firm has been forced to find new offices in the area to accommodate the ever-increasing number of staff.

“We’ll be moving offices later this year,” says Lister. “We’ve doubled in size, but the growth has been expected.”

Donna Sawyer