DWF hires Pinsents financial institutions head for CEO role

DWF has raided Pinsent Masons for financial institutions head Stephen Miles as the firm gears up for growth across its commercial practice groups.

Miles is to take on the role of CEO for the DWF commercial services division, which accounts for around half of the firm’s turnover at an estimated £100m.

The division covers corporate and banking, litigation and real estate, the latter of which saw revenues increase 92 per cent for the first half of 2013/14 (18 November 2013).

DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland has recently highlighted the firm’s plans for growth in the financial services sector, with the firm last year securing new clients such as Metro Bank (18 November 2013). 

In his capacity as a transactional banking lawyer at Pinsent Masons, Miles acted for Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC. The new role makes him one of the three most senior partners at DWF, alongside Leaitherland and head of insurance Paul Berry. Insurance revenue now accounts for 47 per cent of the firm’s total turnover.

Miles will report to Leaitherland, who was previously running the CEO role, and will work closely with COO Natalie Griffin, real estate head Nic Crocker, litigation chief Graham Dagnall and corporate and banking head Alasdair Peacock. 

Leaitherland said in a statement: “This role is critical to the future development of Commercial Services at DWF and Stephen’s wealth of management experience, his strong leadership track record and his impressive understanding and insight into changing client needs will give us an exceptional platform for future growth.”

At the moment DWF’s profit margin is barely above the 11 per cent it was in 2008, when it was turning over £66m. Since then the firm has grown almost three-fold in revenue and has 169 more partners, but after a year of mergers in 2012/13, the margin dropped from 14.22 to just 11.05 per cent. 

The firm’s LLP accounts released in January confirmed DWF is still just outside of The Lawyer UK top 20, however its audited revenue of £142.7m shows a 46 per cent increase from 2011/12’s £97.8m (21 March 2014).

According to the firm’s latest LLP filing, Biggart Baillie (7 June 2013), Buller Jeffries (2 April 2012), Claimbase and Fishburns (18 January 2013) cost the firm a total of £12.9m, equal to the net assets of the acquisitions. While the pre-pack acquisition of Cobbetts (6 February 2013) cost it £3.9m, including £1.8m in work in progress.