Fast-growing Birmingham law firm Shakespeares is planning to make at least three further acquisitions over the year ahead.
The firm, which last year became the second largest in the Midlands following its merger with Harvey Ingram, also said it would not rule out further expansion opportunities as and when they arise.
Last year’s merger with Harvey Ingram saw the firm expand its reach to the East Midlands and Home Counties and reach an annual turnover of approximately £45 million.
Shakespeares’ chief executive Paul Wilson told the Post: “We hope to do three transactions this year – all Midlands based acquisitions – but we are also keen to look at any opportunities. We are very opportunistic.
“We have gone from employing 190 to 670 people and expect to grow that by maybe another 100 people.
“We might get to 800 people in this calendar year and achieve £50 million in revenue by this time next year.
“That will be by acquiring other law firms in the Midlands.
“We are looking mostly for people who share our desire to build an organisation based on its people and who share our idea for fairness.”
In a sector which is currently under increased pressure in the wake of the demise of established law firms like Cobbetts and Blakemores in recent months, Mr Wilson said he believed the changing legal landscape represented an opportunity.
“For us a business we see this as a market for great potential,” he added. “We see it as a huge opportunity over the next three to five years.”
Mr Wilson said he believed Shakespeares’ survival and continued growth was in large part due to the adoption of a more business-like approach.
“Firms over the last five or six years have had to become more like businesses than law firms were,” he said.
“They have managed to change themselves into normal businesses where they are trying to manage client income and staff needs. That is tricky in the good times and very tricky in the recession.
“We have 85 partners in the firm who are fully involved and seven who help us manage the business in a much more focused business-like way.”
Expansion at Shakespeares has seen the firm go from turning over £17 million six years ago to more than £45 million today.
Although it has evolved continuously since it first opened in Birmingham in the 1850s, much major expansion has taken place since 2007, following a merger with Putsmans to become Shakespeare Putsman. Turnover then was £17 million and the firm employed 250 staff.
Staff numbers increased to 320 in 2010 following a merger with Needham & James, which had offices in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds, creating a firm with £22 million of revenue.
The same year saw a merger with Nottingham-based Berryman, boosting turnover to £28 million and increasing the number of staff to 420.
Unified under the new Shakespeares banner in 2011 the firm went on to merge with specialist social housing firm Gorrara Haden Solicitors and Solihull-based Wood Glaister the same year.
Going forward Mr Wilson said he remained confident in the philosophy of expansion, though added that costs would be kept to a minimum.
“We are not flashy, we want to keep a low cost business but also have a mixture of very good people and great clients,” he said.
“Our leadership team are extremely prudent, and the maxim that ‘you don’t spend money you don’t have’ has stood us in good stead.
“At the moment we are doing extremely well. We are significantly ahead of our budget and there is a sense of real confidence about the future which is hopefully well-placed.
“The partnership here is extremely confident that the next five years will be better than the last five.”