We’re pleased to report strong financial results for the 12 months up to March 2021 – despite the significant effects of the unprecedented global Covid-19 pandemic falling fully into this financial year.
Turnover was down 5.1% across the whole year to March 2021. However, we reported a split between a significant 27% drop in the first five months, offset by a sizeable and sustained seven-month period of growth (16% across the last seven months).
During the initial months of the pandemic, corporate and real estate deal activity – a significant proportion of our turnover in normal years – was greatly reduced. This was due to the business community pausing, with much of retail, construction and development work temporarily halting.
The effects of the pandemic were also felt across our dispute resolution and insolvency teams where a combined loss of commercial appetite and emergency Government legislation reduced work levels.
A strong second half
In the second half of the financial year, activity levels picked up significantly and we experienced a period of record growth across the business, with significant deal activity and a resurgence of corporate and real estate transactions as the economy reopened.
This strong profit performance enabled us to reward our people with a share in our profits equating to £524,000 and just short of 10% of salary.
Top tier praise
We also maintained and improved our Legal 500 UK rankings, with 11 top tier placements, including new top placings for Property Litigation, IT and Telecoms, and continued national recognition for our expertise in Sport.
Our Corporate team was recognised at the Insider Dealmakers Awards in both 2020 and 2021, with wins for the Corporate Lawyer of the Year for Philip Clare and Sarah Forster respectively.
The Corporate team received nine nominations across every available category in 2021, acting on the winning Deal of the Year in the under and over £10m transactional categories in both years.
The Muckle LLP Real Estate team was also nominated in the Insider 2021 Property Awards for Property law Firm of the Year.
Gold standard employer
We continued to invest and develop our talent making four senior promotions including two promotions to partner in both our Real Estate and Employment teams. We continue to drive forward our growth plans and are currently expanding our workforce with roles available across the firm.
We are ranked 2nd in the world against legal firms of the same size, and 147th globally overall, following our recent Investors in People survey results where we maintained “Gold” status. In total, over 98% of our employees said Muckle was a great place to work, an unbelievable result given that the survey and assessment were carried out in the height of the pandemic.
Managing Partner Jason Wainwright said: “The 12 months leading up to March 2021 were unprecedented with the most significant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic falling fully into our financial year.
“Like most law firms, we faced a difficult period of economic uncertainty in the first five months. Along with the obvious organisational and wellbeing challenges, we successfully shifted our entire business to work 100% remotely overnight.
“We were lucky to be better prepared than many law firms, having the infrastructure and a culture of agile working in place well before the pandemic. Our prior investment in these areas paid dividends and we were able to move seamlessly to remote working as an extension to our existing flexible working environment.
“We continue to invest in digital technology, appointing a Digital Developer to our newly formed Data and Digital team and launching our innovative ‘Muckle Collect’ product – a debt recovery tool which uses technology and data analytics to streamline the process. In true Muckle fashion, it earned us a place on the shortlist at the 2021 North East Business Awards for Innovation and Technology.
“We were particularly proud of being shortlisted for the Heart of the Community Award in the 2021 North East Business Awards, which celebrates excellence in corporate, social and ethical responsibility.
“We are proud of the purpose our firm fulfils in our region. The communities in which we live and work are at the heart of what we do. We were pleased to make our usual donation from profits of more than £20,000 to our charitable fund, and our team continues to provide significant pro bono hours and contribute their time to community projects.
“Against the backdrop of Covid-19, we are very pleased with our overall financial results. Our culture and focus on our people and their wellbeing, as well as our strong focus on our clients’ experience, stood us in good stead during the pandemic.
“The leadership role we continue to play within the North East and Cumbria business community gives us strong building blocks for the future, along with our adaptability, innovation and the hard work and commitment of our people.
“Our 2022 financial year has started strongly, and as a busy, leading law firm with numerous significant client and work wins, we continue on our desired growth trajectory.”