How fortune favoured the brave OC

Success of firm’s daring Eurocentric expansion policy silences sceptics

Rewind to March 2012. The economy was in the doldrums and many firms were looking for ways to reboot growth.

At the 2008/09 year-end Osborne Clarke (OC) saw revenue fall by a staggering 11.9 per cent. It wasn’t alone, many mid-tier firms were suffering the after-effects of the recession. In March 2012 the firm took the drastic step of disbanding its European alliance with the aim of becoming a standalone European firm. It immediately merged with its Spanish and Italian alliance partners Osborne Clarke Spain and SLA Studio Legal Associato, kick-starting the strategy with six offices in Europe.

Some outsiders were sceptical and questioned the initiative’s potential. They needn’t have bothered.

Last week the firm opened the doors to its 18th office worldwide, in Amsterdam. There have been 13 new bases since the European strategy was launched. In the past year alone it has popped up in Paris, Brussels, New York and San Francisco. The two US bases are geared primarily towards marketing to new global clients and steering them towards the firm’s lawyers closer to home. Just last month the firm won a spot on Apple’s record-breaking £3.3bn buyout of Dr Dre’s music platform Beats – a mandate largely sourced through the firm’s Silicon Valley office.

And the firm’s rapid expansion has made a transformative impact on its bottom line. OC is ahead of the pack in terms of revenue growth for 2013/14, pushing up turnover by 25.9 per cent, to £142m. Partnership headcount is also up by more than a fifth, growing by 21.6 per cent, from
148 to 180.

Now take a step back and look at the broader picture. It has been a decade of staggering growth, with revenues sprouting from £64.6m in 2003/04 to £142m – 120 per cent. Partnership headcount has seen a similar transformation, up by 95.7 per cent, from 92 to 180.

Being bold has paid off.