DWF spent £17m on mergers in 2012/13, LLP accounts reveal

DWF spent almost £17m on its expansion last year, the firm’s newly-released LLP accounts have shown.

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

Partner capital introduced as a result of the mergers amounted to £13.1m, giving the firm total members’ interest of £40.9m at the end of the financial year.

DWF restructured its debt during the 2012/13 financial year, reducing its £980,000 overdraft and instead adding £5.6m to the firm’s committed bank funding, taking borrowings to £16.3m in total – up from £10.7m in 2011/12.

Managing partner Andrew Leaitherland said the firm still had a small overdraft facility but the vast majority of lending is now through unsecured committed funding.

Although the firm reported annualised turnover of £188m earlier this year (6 June 2013), an increase of 84 per cent from 2011/12, audited revenue was £142.7m. That figure included revenues brought in by the acquired practices after their respective mergers with DWF, but not revenue made pre-acquisition.

The audited figure was a 46 per cent increase from 2011/12’s audited result of £97.8m. Meanwhile audited net profit rose from £23.5m to £38.1m, a rise of 61 per cent.

DWF’s highest-paid partner received £1.1m, up 30.4 per cent from £833,000 the previous year.

Leaitherland said growth would slow during the current financial year, although he predicted revenue would continue to rise. DWF posted half-year turnover of £93.6m, largely due to its mergers (18 November 2013).

“This year we should break £200m, a signficant part of which will be litigation,” Leaitherland said.

DWF made it into The Lawyer’s Litigation top 15 this year for the first time on this basis of its annualised turnover (4 November 2013).

Leaitherland added: “I see London being a 600-person office in three years but it is unlikely to be through merger, it’ll be through laterals and organic growth. We may have some small regional mergers but noting like this year.”

DWF’s ‘annual review’, entitled “Building on success: shaping our future” also reveals that insurance remains the firm’s largest practice area, accounting for 47 per cent of annualised turnover.

The firm made 121 internal promotions and 32 lateral hires, resulting a 60 per cent increase in headcount.

DWF lawyers and staff spent 8,397 hours on pro bono and community activity, with the time valued at £1.3m. The report also shows that the firm reduced its carbon emissions by 23 per cent per employee and increased its telephone and video conferencing by 150 per cent last year