Firm profile: Rothera Dowson

Nottingham-based Rothera Dowson is known locally for its niche transport and private client practices.

Transport was driven forward by consultant and former partner Ian Rothera, and the firm – which has roots dating back 180 years – has built up considerable experience in advising hauliers on contentious matters.

Recent instructions include representing a client in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency. The client’s vehicle had spilled a hazardous chemical over a distance of many miles, which then leaked into the nearby streams and river causing major pollution problems.

The firm was not successful in the case, but this has not stopped it bringing on some big international names such as Christian Salvesen, and on the back of this it is currently running a campaign to promote its motorist defence service.

The other traditional practice area in this firm, and a potential growth area, is private client work.

“We’re looking at developing further our services for elderly clients,” says managing partner Jayne Smith, who cites planning for care home fees and power of attorney as key areas.

Rothera Dowson is looking to recruit another two fee-earning staff into private client, but Smith admits it is not easy, saying: “Its not attractive to younger people.”

The firm gave up publicly funded crime work a year ago “because we didn’t have the size to do it,” Smith clarifies. But it still undertakes publicly funded family work, unlike many firms in Nottingham, because it does have the capability in that sector.

Other areas Rothera Dowson is active in include commercial property, where the firm has handled work for brewer Greene King. The instruction came through a relationship with local brewer Hardys and Hansons, which was acquired by Greene King in 2006. Rothera Dowson is now in the process of registering properties for the company.

The firm has no plans to expand its presence beyond its current five branch offices spread across Nottingham, which it maintains, Smith says, because “people still require a local, personal service”.

The city is part of the firm’s identity, where rivals include firms such as Berryman, Fraser Brown and Nelsons – the last of which by contrast also has offices in Leicester and Derby.

Smith feels that her own firm is on a steady growth plan – year-end projections are 10 per cent – but is not in the Nottingham premier league. Instead it is “fairly high up in the next tier down,” she says.

Managing partner: Jayne Smith
Turnover: £5m
Total number of partners: 16
Total number of equity partners: 15
Total number of fee-earners: 44
Main practice areas: Family, transport, conveyancing
Key clients: Christian Salvesen, Calor
Number of offices: Five
Locations: Nottingham