Walker Morris shake-up pays dividends in profits

Walker Morris has witnessed a growth in turnover of 18 per cent at the end of its financial year.

Revenue is up from £22m to £26m and profits per partner jumped similarly – an 18 per cent rise, from an average of £340,000 to around £400,000.
The Leeds firm, which in last year's The Lawyer 100 nestled in the top quarter for profits per partner, has once again grown sufficiently to see its partners sitting pretty in the region.
A management reshuffle earlier in the year saw former managing partner Philip Mudd replaced by Michael Taylor.
“Most firms make the mistake of taking their busiest lawyers and business-getters and putting them into management,” said senior partner Peter Smart, who was himself managing partner for 12 years.
He continued: “We don't underestimate or overestimate the value that good management can bring to a business. From now on, we don't intend to have anyone in the role of managing partner for more than two sessions [six years].”
All practice areas have performed well this year, with corporate and finance closing the gap on the firm's traditional strengths in commercial property and commercial litigation. On the corporate side, Walker Morris advised Homestyle Group on its £135m takeover of Harveys Furnishing, making it the largest home furnishings retailer in the UK.
Mudd's return to full-time fee-earning boosted the firm's insolvency practice.
The insolvency team acted for Cattles on raising about £400m of multicurrency term and revolving credit facilities from a syndicate of banks, which was arranged by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Commercial property and litigation provided the foundations for Walker Morris's growth in revenue. One big deal this year was the £190m acquisition of 480 Scottish & Newcastle properties by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Walker Morris acted for the bank. The firm also scooped Starbucks as a new property client.
Smart attributes part of the firm's success to its unique strategy. “Our aim is to develop a significant practice operating on a nationwide basis, but operating out of one location,” he says.
The firm has stuck to this ambition, despite seeing rivals go national. “We're not afraid of our competitors,” concluded Smart.