Gordons sees revenue fall after shift away from claimant PI work

Yorkshire firm Gordons has reported its first year of revenue decline in 13 years, with turnover falling by 11 per cent to £22.9m due in part to a withdrawal from claimant personal injury work.

The firm’s turnover fell from £25.8m in 2012/13, when Gordons recorded its twelfth successive year of growth – although the rate of revenue increase slowed after an 8.6 per cent rise in turnover between 2010/11 and 2011/12 (1 May 2012).

Managing partner Paul Ayre said the decline could be attributed in part to the firm’s decision to pull away from claimant personal injury work following the implementation of the Jackson Reforms, as well as more general fee pressure from clients. It has also reduced its focus on residential conveyancing although this is still offered.

Gordons continues to have a defendant personal injury practice, which contributed around £2m of turnover last year. 

Ayre said profitability was also down, although the firm has not yet disclosed profit figures. Gordons has historically produced a high average profit per equity partner due to its tightly-held equity partnership. Last year there were eight equity partners in a total patnership of 36.

The firm’s investment in Addleshaw Goddard corporate partner Simon Pilling in June last year (11 June 2013) appears to have paid off, with Gordons’ corporate team seeing turnover rise both in absolute terms and as a percentage of revenue. The team contributed 13 per cent of turnover, or £3m, in 2013/14, compared to 10.8 per cent or £2.8m in 2012/13.

Gordons’ property and litigation teams both saw a reduction in revenue.

Lawyer numbers fell from 111 to 90, according to information provided for the UK200, although total partner numbers rose. Fee-earner numbers are also on the up, in line with the firm’s decision several years ago to focus on efficiency and to provide alternative career paths for non-lawyers (23 October 2011). In 2013/14 the ratio of qualified lawyers to other fee-earners was 1:1.

Ayre said although lawyer numbers fell last year this was predominantly due to the shift away from claimant personal injury and a decision not to replace departing staff. He added the firm was currently hiring, predominantly at a more junior level.

As well as Pilling lateral hires in the past year included a pensions team from Eversheds led by partner Terry Saeedi (4 June 2013).