Barlow Robbins

Last September Barlow Robbins converted to an LDP, making chief executive Ray Black a full equity partner in the process. The move was intended to make the firm a slick operation commercially with a focus firmly on the profit margin.

Ray Black
Ray Black

Merged out of Barlows and Robbins Olivey in 2004, Barlow Robbins increased its focus on commercial matters prior to the recession. More recently it has set about consolidating a new management structure, with Black as chief executive and Helen Archibald as chair, working alongside a strategic board made up of the firm’s department heads.

Black says the aim is to create a structure that means a member is controlling fees of at least £1m and generating a margin of 25 per cent.

The firm is split evenly between commercial and private client, with each contributing 50 per cent of the £11m turnover.

“The objective is to move away from mid-tier entrepreneurial work into work for larger ­organisations, such as listings,” says Black. “We’re actively recruiting a company commercial head and hope to attract someone from a London firm.”

Each private client practice contributes £1m to overall turnover. “We’re trying to get a member aligned with each practice,” Black adds.

He admits that the recession has taken its toll, but that the firm took steps early on to mitigate the downturn in company commercial instructions. It did reduce its staff base, but its strong management committee means it is well-placed to move forward.

“Geographically we’re in a good position,” he argues. “We’re more progressive than others. We have a tight accounting system, we’re profit-orientated and we’re putting in place a performance management system.”

After focusing on internal functions, next on the agenda is a mission to raise the firm’s profile.

Chief executive: Ray Black

Turnover: £11m

Number of partners:20

Number of equity partners:12

Number of lawyers:43

Number of fee-earners:84

Number of offices: Three

Locations: Godalming, ­Guildford, Woking

Main practice areas:­Company commercial, ­dispute resolution, family, employment, IT, IP, personal injury, probate, real estate

Key clients: Surrey University, RSPCA, United Drug, Snow & Rock, Lloyds TSB