Brief encounter: DMH

Size is not everything, as 28-partner Brighton-based firm DMH proves. It has a turnover of more than £10m, placing it just outside The Lawyer’s top 100 law firms. This compares favourably with its nearest but much larger rival, 47-partner Blake Lapthorn, which had a turnover of £15m last year.

DMH has recently rebranded, adopting a new corporate image and strategy. It has offices in Brighton and Crawley, and has one partner based in Worthing serving wealthy private clients.

Its modernisation has not been met with total support. In November 1999, two equity partners left after a dispute over new strategy, understood to be related to a new pay regime that was being introduced for partners (The Lawyer, 29 November 1999).

In February this year, the firm suffered another blow. It lost its head of property Michael Bailey, who had been a partner there for 15 years.

But since then it has hit back. Property and planning partner Carl Burton joined the firm in July. He boosted the land development practice when he brought his 12-strong team from Crawley firm Rawlison & Butler. He also added Crest Homes and Try Homes to the firm’s client list.

DMH’s core strength lies in its employment practice, which doubled its turnover this year. It also hired head of employment Katie McCarthy from local rival Cripps Harries Hall. DMH’s client list includes HFC Bank, Thistle Hotels and several high-ranking directors.

The firm also has international aspirations. It is the sole UK member of Law Europe, an introductory organisation for law firms. The firm has developed good relations with Swedish firm Delphi & Co, Danish firm Dahl Koch & Boll Aalborg and New York and Washington-based firm Cameron & Hornbostel.

DMH has also been targeting Israel since dual-qualified associate Penina Shepherd joined two years ago. The firm is now advising an Israeli company on inward investment into the UK.

DMH has also devoted a great deal of time to develop an innovation and media practice encompassing intellectual property, IT and high-tech work, and is now one of the leading South East firms in this sector. The area accounts for 30 per cent of its annual turnover.

Clients include Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, internet service provider Mistral and service-call software provider Eyretel.

During the past few years DMH’s turnover has steadily increased. It has been reasonably successful in its recruitment and has developed a solid reputation in a number of specialist areas, notably employment and property.