Our response to The Lawyer Top 100 rankings
CEO Sarah Walker-Smith responds to The Lawyer Top 100 rankings:
What is our ranking this year? And how does this differ to last year?
These rankings are based on revenue numbers, and this year we remain in the top 100 at position 56. Last year we were ranked 52. .
The rankings do also show a very positive increase in our revenue per lawyer (RPL) and revenue per partner (RPP), which are important metrics for us. RPL is up by 4% and RPP has increased by 22%.
Are you surprised or concerned by this latest top 100 ranking?
Not at all - we've been seeing a lot of turbulence in the legal market, which is set to continue, and we do not expect our positioning, in revenue terms, to remain static year on year. As you would expect, we've been completely upfront on our numbers, and in 2019 we expected a temporary dip in revenue as a result of our planned refocus and 'reboot' of Shakespeare Martineau, which includes significant investment in our business - particularly in our digital infrastructure, technology and most importantly our people.
These investments align with our long-term sustainable business strategy and we view this as a time when we are 'reloading the catapult' for long-term growth.
Did coronavirus have an impact?
Yes, inevitably. In the last financial year the pandemic had around a £2m impact on our revenue, as many work streams stopped suddenly. This year to date it's circa 15%; however, since July we've seen a number of work streams pick up dramatically and remain confident that we will see a significant improvement by the year end - we're predicting 7% down by the end of the year.
Does this mean the firm is in trouble if revenue is down?
Quite the opposite! We expected our profits to be down last financial year because of the amount of investment we've been putting back into the business to gear ourselves up for significant growth.
Furthermore, I have emphasised throughout how we are genuinely all in it together through the coronavirus crisis, and despite the impact it has had on our revenues at a time of increased investment, our members have been determined to avoid firm-wide salary cuts if at all possible, and as a consequence have accepted reduced profits and hence earnings for the last financial year.
Despite this, our underlying fundamentals are sound, and while our overall member numbers have decreased, we have been pleased to see our revenue per partner increase steadily over the last 3 years from £530,000 to £652,000.
Why have our number of partners and lawyers decreased?
Having fewer members was part of our strategy to 'reload the catapult' - we're still making promotions and investing in the development of our people, are proactively hiring at all levels and are also creating new talent pipelines, as well as improving the accessibility of our early ambitions initiatives.
Where are we aiming to rank next year?
Our attitude is to 'chase the dream, not the competition' and while a specific spot in the top 100 is not our main driver, clearly one of the outcomes of our growth strategy should be a rise in the revenue rankings.
Indeed, longer-term we are aiming to sit inside the top 30.