The following is an extract from the The Journal Business news article 12 April 2012.
One of the North East’s largest commercial law firms is continuing its growth, with a 15% rise in revenues last year.
Newcastle-based Muckle LLP has driven its income up to £10.46m in the 12 months to the end of March, from £9.4m a year earlier, despite a tough market for deals. A lack of economic confidence has held back mergers and funding deals for most companies, and is expected to have kept financial figures flat at rival firms when they report this year.
But Muckle’s corporate team completed 112 corporate transactions, including funding/banking deals, worth more than £420m in total over the calendar year, compared with 106 deals worth £403m in the 12 months to the end of last March. The firm’s corporate team saw mid-market private equity becoming much more active in the region, looking not just to finance deals, but also to initiate them.
And Muckle said it is confident about its performance this year, and senior partner Hugh Welch is confident about the months ahead. “We have stuck to what we are good at, which is giving a quality service to North East firms – whether they are solely based here or have expanded nationally. We have seen strong growth this year and I would be surprised if we don’t see double-digit growth again over the next year,” he added.
The firm’s determination to focus on North East work means it is unlikely to follow rivals like Dickinson Dees, Ward Hadaway and Watson Burton in opening offices outside the region.
Managing partner Steve McNicol said: “We find there is still enough work in the North East. We are about investing in our people and helping them to win more business in the North East and further afield. We are not finding it a difficult market and are anticipating further growth from work in this region.”
Corporate finance work is still its biggest field, bringing in around a third of its income, but there has been a big increase in areas such as construction, banking, dispute resolution and employment work.
The firm – whose workforce rose from 134 to 145 people last year – has continued recruiting highly-rated partners as it diversifies its business to ensure it is not over-reliant on the corporate market, despite its confident approach.
Among the six partners the firm has recruited over the last 18 months is national construction expert Rob Langley, who was formerly at Newcastle rival, Watson Burton. Langley is credited with a big expansion of the firm’s construction and engineering business, which brought in over £1m in 2011.
Another significant signing is John Devine, who is a highly-rated sports law specialist. His department beat national competition to a deal with The Football Association to provide legal advice to its Charter Standard Clubs and Leagues. The contract sees the firm provide a helpline service for the 5,246 clubs and 146 leagues which have achieved the FA Charter Standard of excellence.
The firm is also proud of its continuing corporate social responsibility work over the last 12 months, which includes giving 1% of its annual profits to good causes, undertaking unpaid legal work worth more than £100,000 and giving its staff time off from the office to do work for charities and local good causes. And it is investing further in new technology which, it says, should continue to ensure it will remain competitive in the years to come.
For more information on the above please contact Steve McNicol on 0191 211 7904 or email [email protected].