Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) continued inching up The Lawyer’s UK 200 running order last year, rising one place thanks to an admittedly market average-busting 13 per cent increase in total turnover.
Turnover (£m): 112.5
Average PEP: 540
Equity spread (£k): 310-620
Profit margin (%): 28
RPL (£k): 328
The top-line growth – turnover hit £112.5m – was once again powered by the firm’s continued international development and expansion. Launches in places as varied as Brussels, Geneva and Perth (the latter being the firm’s third Australian outpost) took HFW’s office tally to 13 offices in 10 jurisdictions. As a result, almost 50 per cent of the firm’s revenue is now derived from outside London. That figure is certain to grow if and when HFW launches in South America in support of the eight-partner aerospace team the firm hired from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. The firm is budgeting for a turnover of £130m-plus for the current year.
HFW is in the process of making changes to its modified lockstep, bringing the seven-step progression into line both with market sentiment for shorter ladders and age discrimination laws by reducing it to five equal steps of two points each. Currently partners enter the lockstep on 10 points, progressing at 1.5 points for the first four steps followed by two steps of two points. The planned change would see partners still enter the lockstep on 10 points, but then progress up the ladder two points at a time to 20.
Last year net profit remained static at £32m, although average profit per equity partner rose slightly, from £527,000 to £540,000.
The firm’s management structure is relatively simple. Greg Gray, who has been the full-time managing partner for eight years, makes the day-to-day decisions; he is supported by the management board, which makes strategic decisions.
Remuneration is handled primarily by Gray and senior partner Richard Crump, who appraise partners individually, a process that involves visiting each of the firm’s 13 offices.
Litigation is by far HFW’s biggest revenue generator, contributing £92m to total turnover.