Kemp Little senior partner Richard Kemp thinks the next decade will be tough for the legal market.
“The macroeconomic climate for the next 10 years will be different from how it was up to 2007,” he says. “The market’s oversupplied with lawyers and there’s technological change that takes the process out of even high-end firms.”
But Kemp Little is a firm that is capable of bucking the trend. In 2008-09, when the recession hit larger firms, its revenue grew by 11 per cent to reach £7.1m.
“We don’t do conveyancing, property, banking or high-end private equity, so we were out of the vortex of the crisis,” explains Kemp.
The following year the firm saw a slight dip to £6.9m, partly because of a reduction in acquisition activity – an area that has since picked up. The firm is forecasting 12 per cent growth this year, with technology and outsourcing becoming more important to professional services clients.
Profitability has also been relatively good. The margin for 2010-11 is forecast to be 36 per cent, with an average profit per equity partner (PEP) of £310,000 – a small drop on 2009-10.
However, this is still 13 per cent lower than 2007, when equity partners were taking home almost £360,000.
The firm is implementing cost-saving measures to try to get its PEP up again, such as increasing the number of staff working open plan at its London office and outsourcing some secretarial work.
Also on the drawing board are plans to expand its best friends network beyond Europe into India, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Singapore.
And there is change at the top. Managing partner Lucy Vernall leaves at the end of March to take on the general counsel role at Wonga.com. The firm will not be appointing a new managing partner, but is rather seeking a chief operating officer to take on some of her responsibilities.
Senior partner: Richard Kemp
Number of partners:12
Number of equity partners:Nine
Number of lawyers:35
Number of fee-earners:36
Main practice areas:Commercial/competition, corporate/tax, employment, intellectual property
Number of offices:One
Key clients: Accenture, eBay, Expedia, Financial Times, Google, Microsoft