Scottish firm Brodies completed the first financial year of its current three-year strategy in 2015, with an 11.2 per cent increase in turnover to £57.9m. It was the firm’s fifth consecutive year of revenue and profit growth.
Brodies has achieved turnover growth of 57.2 per cent since the full impact of the financial crisis in 2009/10. Over the past decade, its investment-led organic growth strategy has increased turnover by 176.7 per cent and delivered a compound organic growth rate of 12 per cent.
Managing partner Bill Drummond, who has been in the role since 1998 and was re-elected in 2015 for another term, oversees the firm’s strategic progress.
Under Drummond’s leadership, the firm has invested in headcount in the past year, when its total number of staff grew by 7 per cent, passing the 600 mark for the first time.
Drummond says the firm adopted a fairly focused strategy to deliver its recent growth. “We recognise that to stand out in what is an intensely competitive marketplace, we have really got to concentrate on what it is that the clients and the markets are looking for,” he says. “To stand out, you’ve got to show real commitment to these sectors, backed up by investment.”
Drummond points not only to sectors such as oil and gas, but also to transport, financial services and rural business as examples of where Brodies can make a difference to its clients.
In the past year, Brodies has made several key strategic moves, including opening a new office in Glasgow and investing in a new technology platform to deliver cost-effective solutions to its clients.
Drummond is convinced that the firm needs to keep looking forward to support the growth of its clients, and technology was a key area of innovation last year. He says Brodies tries to incentivise its lawyers and staff to think of new ways to support their clients.
“It’s encouragement to partners to think creatively, to think from their deep knowledge of how clients have to run their businesses, to come up with something to make their lives simpler on a business-as-usual basis so they can engage us on the more complex and challenging things that come along,” he adds.
“We really do take the view that the nature of clients’ requirements is changing so fast that the cake isn’t a fixed cake; the ingredients of the cake are changing all the time.”
Brodies has developed several products to improve efficiencies for clients. The firm’s employment team developed BresourceFull Workbox, an online platform that offers subscribers a comprehensive library of HR information, guides and resources, minimising the need for costly legal advice on a day-to-day basis.
The firm also developed online contract management tool BOrganised following a survey of 138 organisations across Scotland which showed that about 22 per cent had no system in place to manage contracts with suppliers.
The system provides a central location to store contracts and supporting documentation that is available online on demand, a visual summary of key dates and e-alerts for deadlines, search and reporting capabilities and an organisational view of commitments and liabilities, so the business can manage risk more effectively.
Internally, Brodies has reorganised its pricing options for clients, which allow a system of lawyer allocation dependent on the complexity of work, using fixed and staged fees and applying volume discounts so there is more price certainty and shared incentive to minimise unnecessary costs.
Volume discounts are offered when the costs reach a certain level, although the firm assesses pricing across all areas of work so the discount structure can be used to incentivise the firm across other areas.
Client relationships and key deals
Over the past year, Brodies has attracted more than 3,500 new clients operating in almost every sector of the economy. These range from household names to individuals.
Among last year’s key deals, the firm acted on the biggest investment in the UKCS since the oil price slump as legal adviser to INEOS Upstream in the purchase of DEA UK.
Brodies also acted for Dutch transport giant Abellio on its winning bid to Transport Scotland for the £7bn ScotRail Franchise.
Brodies’ five years of consecutive revenue and profit growth appealed to The Lawyer Awards’ judges, but more important was the firm’s tried and tested strategy with “clear deliverables and driven implementation plans”.
“This is a firm that has taken charge of its own destiny and projects confidence and vision for its people and clients,” one judge says. “There is a good use of technology and strong financial performance across the firm.”
Another judge adds: “Brodies has strong values and has pushed itself further than any other firm in Scotland.”
The winning formula was clear: prove innovation in client delivery and development across all practice areas, as well as a strategy that focuses on developing the firm’s core strength.