St Albans firm Sherrards began life more than a ­century ago, offering traditional ’high street’ ­services.

Alasdair McMillin
Alasdair McMillin

A major overhaul of its service offering came in the 1990s when its focus switched to ­commercial work, a move that managing partner Alasdair McMillin says was a defining moment in Sherrards’ history. ­Commercial work now accounts for 90 per cent of the firm’s turnover.

In September 2011 Sherrards merged with two-partner commercial City firm Staal & Staal, bulking up the commercial property, franchise, retail and investment sectors, as well as gifting it high-­profile clients such as ­hairdressing chain Toni & Guy.

McMillin says the reason behind the “highly focused” merger was to strengthen the firm’s position within its target market, grow organically and enhance Sherrards’ specialist teams. The decision to drop the Staal name was purely a matter of going with whichever firm had the highest headcount.

With the recent arrival of head of corporate and commercial Jean-Paul da Costa and corporate finance head Keith Dobson, the firm is well-placed to pursue its aggressive growth strategy.

“Our strategy’s multi-layered and relatively ­complex,” says McMillin. “However, we work for some well-known brands and we aim to attract more now that we have a London base. Also, our ­international workload’s increasing and this is ­something we’ll continue to focus on.”

McMillin’s outlook for Sherrards is resolutely cheerful and he remains unfazed by the ­implementation of the Legal Services Act.

“While [the act] will no doubt result in more ­competition, and some of it from unusual places, the fundamental competitive position of the firm will be similar,” he stresses.

We’ll have to offer ­outstanding legal ­support and deliver value in a ­distinctive and ­personable way. Increased ­competition will serve to sharpen our resolve in this respect.”

Firm: Sherrards

Managing partner: Alasdair McMillin

Turnover: £5.15m

Number of partners:12

Number of equity partners: Seven

Number of lawyers: 19

Number of fee-earners: 20

Number of offices: Two

Locations: London, St Albans

Main practice areas: Commercial property, dispute resolution, litigation, employment, franchising, international, residential ­conveyancing, retail

Key clients: Ann Summers, Confederation of British Industry, Henley Property ­Investments, Domino’s UK, Toni & Guy