London firm's major restructuring pays off

LONDON 24-partner firm Winckworth & Pemberton is restructuring its practice and forming new client-led mixed-skill teams to extend its niche services.

The move has so far added u700,000 to the firm's u8.5 million turnover this year by increased efficiency alone and further increases are expected from new business.

The latest of the new teams is the commercial and government services department. Combining clients such as the Metropolitan Police, London Magistrates' court, property and health authorities, the department is now marketing directly to the ambulance, fire and probation services.

It will also aim to tender for many of the market-tested central government work.

Similar teams for the charities, brewing and pub chain sectors are being considered.

Winckworths' managing partner Keith Jenkins says the firm's strategy is to create multi-skilled teams specialising by market sector, rather than departments running on 19th century lines of practice.

“In a nutshell, we are lawyers for clients and not lawyers for lawyers. The skills are irrelevant unless they are giving what the client wants,” says Jenkins.

The commercial and government department is expected to contribute around u1.3 million in turnover.

Serving as models for its establishment are the housing and local government and ecclesiastical and education departments, turning over around u1.8 million and u1 million respectively.

With only 20 assistant solicitors, Winckworth's partner-solicitor ratio is high. But Jenkins says this is indicative of the nature of the firm's approach to practice.

“We are more of a rocket scientist firm than a technician firm,” he says.