Shoosmiths has been named most efficient of the new law firms to come into Birmingham in the last couple of years.
The Colmore Row firm has the highest revenue-per-lawyer figure, at £297,000, the best of the regional firms to come to Birmingham recently.
The city has seen the sector transform over two years, with regional firms joining longer established outfits.
Newcomers include Midlands firms like Browne Jacobson, Freeth Cartwright, Harvey Ingram and Shoosmiths. Others include Bristol’s Bevan Brittan and Beachcroft, Cheltenham’s BPE and Norwich-based Mills & Reeve.
Shoosmiths’ RPL was the highest among the newcomers, although slightly down on last year’s £303,000. The firm saw a nine per cent revenue increase, having seen untrammelled growth for six years.
Joel Kordan, head of the Birmingham office of Shoosmiths, said: “Birmingham is a legal market which should not be underestimated and I have the utmost respect for firms which come into this market because the established law firms are amongst the UK’s best.
‘‘Our strategy has been to pursue careful growth which is sustainable even, we hope, in these difficult economic times.
“Although we founded the Birmingham office five years ago with property, planning and construction, through savvy recruitment we’ve expanded to cover most legal disciplines. In the last 12 months our numbers have increased by 34 per cent, with an additional 54 new joiners since January. As well as increasing strength in our existing teams, we have launched new services including finance & banking, insolvency, asset finance and social housing.”
In 2008 Shoosmiths became the principal adviser to NEC Group, as well as being one of two firms appointed to a panel advising Centro on the group’s investment in the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station.
Mr Kordan added: “One of the largest growth areas for the Birmingham office has been in public sector work. Our procurement and outsourcing team advised Northamptonshire County Council on a £30million agreement with Cambridgeshire County Council and Fujitsu Services for an IT platform to enable the councils to share back office transactional services. We are sole legal advisers on property, planning, construction, corporate, litigation and public procurement matters for PxP, the joint venture arrangement between Advantage West Midlands and Langtree Group, which acquired 22 development sites in April 2007.”
Among the other new firms in the city, Harvey Ingram had the lowest RPL at £169,000 – a rise of just 0.6 per cent. Among the top 100, Bevan Brittan has the poorest RPL (£180,000), although a climb of 8.4 per cent from last year’s £166,000.
Other firms in the pack had poor RPL results – Freeth Cartwright saw figures drop £2,000, although revenue was up 7.7 per cent.
Mills & Reeve saw RPL fall £10,000, or five per cent, but turnover appeared more healthy. The former was up 10.8 per cent, while the latter edged forward seven per cent, although helped by the firm cutting the number of equity partners by 3.4 per cent.
Most of the longer-established firms performed better, either because of strategic mergers, as with HBJ Gateley Wareing, aggressive targeting of London-clients, or from developing a strong book of local clients.
Wragge & Co, the city’s largest legal firm by fee-earner, has chosen to target contracts around the UK from its Birmingham office, rather than open branch offices, which the company said would unnecessarily duplicate overheads.
It has been using the lower cost-base available in Birmingham to attract more FTSE 250 clients, picking up United Biscuits this year.