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Business & Economy

Strategic streamlining to deliver ambitious goals for Durham law firm

Streamlining to grow may seem a contradiction in terms, but Swinburne Maddison LLP (Swinburne Maddison), a Durham-based law firm, has announced a reorganisation of its management team before embarking on an ambitious expansion plan.

Over the next three years, a range of options will be explored by the firm as it moves forward with its new growth strategy. From targeted recruitment to possible mergers, acquisitions and lateral hires in the form of a small team to bolt on to its existing structure –  all are on the table as the firm prepares for a new outcomes-focused way of operating.

Notwithstanding the pandemic, the reorganisation follows hard on the heels of an exceptional 2020-21 financial performance for Swinburne Maddison, which has seen a year-on-year increase in fee income of 9.8% plus a rise in net profits of 24.6% compared to 2019’s financial performance; results which the partners are keen to build on as they reinvest heavily in the business.

From May 1, a committee of three partners will preside over finance, operations and business development, with Jonathan Moreland, head of the firm’s employment and dispute resolution teams, taking overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of the firm as managing partner.

The newly-formed management team will report to the wider partnership on any strategic decisions but day-to-day matters will be dealt with independently.

Jonathan has been with the firm for 30 years and as he explains, its growth spurts in the past have followed big events. He believes this situation is no different.

“Swinburne Maddison has achieved year-on-year growth for the past 10 years and I strongly believe that one of the main reasons for this is that we are a firm which isn’t afraid to regularly implement big changes and push forward with our plans rather than resting on our laurels.

“Firstly, there was the merger in 1998 when we became Swinburne Maddison; in 2006, it was the year of the big move, from North Bailey in Durham City to our purpose-designed office space at Venture House, Aykley Heads; 2012 saw us embark on a full re-brand exercise; and in 2017 we took occupation of the ground floor of Venture House, prompting plans for our subsequent £500k refurbishment.

“Throughout our past expansion, we have continued to invest in and grow our team, won several awards, including the Northern Law Awards ‘Law Firm of the Year (6+ partners)’ award in 2017, and many of our lawyers regularly receive citations in The Legal 500 directory for their outstanding work.

“The purpose of this reorganisation is to streamline the decision-making process and become more outcomes-focused in our bid to increase turnover, achieve greater profitability and expand our team.”

Martyn Tennant, partner and head of the corporate and commercial team, is clear about the firm’s potential for growth.  He said: “We are enjoying a high level of demand across our entire service portfolio and we do not see this diminishing.

“We already represent plcs with multi-million-pound turnovers as well as leading registered providers of social housing and local authorities – in the North East and beyond – with private individuals and a large portfolio of SMEs occupying the space in between.  We are also very proud to count Durham Cathedral amongst our longstanding clients, so we are well placed to provide advice for a wide range of businesses across the region.

“As we move forward, nothing is off the table.  However, the development and retention of our existing talented and enthusiastic staff remains our number one priority.  We have some fantastic young lawyers in our team and, for those who stay and grow with us, there will be exciting opportunities in the years ahead.”

Jonathan added: “Whilst this reorganisation will bring more responsibility to the four-strong management team, we will not be relinquishing our caseloads.  Instead, we will be outsourcing and delegating much of the non-legal work which has traditionally been managed in-house by the partners to reduce any existing administrative burdens and free up even more time for case work.

“We’re all in this together.  I am confident that I will be able to look back in three years and see that the targets we are setting today, have not merely been reached, but exceeded!”