Walker Morris achieved record results last year, with a turnover of more than £60m, ending 30 April 2022, compared to £55.2m the year before. This follows four years of strong growth, with revenue increasing by almost 50% since 1 May 2017. Managing partner Malcolm Simpson explains how this follows the launch of the firm’s new strategy and what we can expect from the firm in the coming years.
Walker Morris has demonstrated strong revenue growth over the last year. What do you attribute this success to?
In 2021 we launched Ambition 24, our three-year growth strategy. It sets out ambitious goals and moves us away from the ‘traditional’ law firm reputation.
Revenue growth is important – but it’s more than that. We’re developing our capability, our client offering, our people. We’ve made a record number of lateral hires in the past year, and made 21 promotions across ten teams. Growth enables us to support more people into partnership, and earlier, than ever.
We’ve also launched our new brand, with a renewed purpose, vision and values, and a focus on our people. Because our success is a testament to everyone’s hard work. I truly believe that the more ownership and autonomy given to employees, the greater their level of engagement. We trust our teams to deliver and give them the space to do so.
The firm has introduced a number of new team initiatives over the past year, can you talk through some of these?
We’ve been developing our Sustainable Careers proposition, which supports people to meet their aspirations over a lifelong career.
We expose our people to top flight, City-calibre work from day one. We help them make their own connections and learn to build a practice. Our lawyers thrive in this high-performance environment, but it brings certain demands. We help our teams manage the inevitable pressures, while building long-term careers aligned with their individual ambitions. As an example, late last year, we launched our sabbatical scheme, which entitles all our solicitors to up to four weeks paid leave (in addition to annual holiday), occurring every two or three years.
We also want to develop new legal talent, opening up routes into law for as many people as possible. To help us understand – and combat – the barriers young people face, we recently surveyed 2,000 14-18 year olds to uncover their perceptions of the legal industry and what may deter them from considering a future within it. With this insight, we’ll keep developing our work with schools and universities to tackle social barriers. Through our relationship with Ahead Partnership, we’re already working with Bishop Young High School in Leeds, delivering assemblies, ‘speed networking’ sessions and bringing students into our offices.
We’ve implemented RARE, a contextual recruitment system, which identifies the most disadvantaged candidates and those outperforming their schools. We’ll use RARE to increase the amount of interviews and trainee appointments of those from underrepresented backgrounds.
We’ve also recently appointed a new D&I manager, who’ll work with our staff networks and ensure we’re making positive change.
So what’s next?
Ambition 24 provides a strong vision for the future. We’re aiming to reach £70m in revenue in the next two years by focusing on the strategy’s three pillars – clients, delivery, talent.
To better support clients, we’re launching COMP&SS (clients, opportunities, matters, pitches & sharing success), our CRM strategy. It will empower everyone to better understand their clients, develop their BD skills and, importantly, celebrate success.
We’re continuously improving our service delivery, and will increase our investment in technology to support that. We’re about to embark on an ambitious data project, to better harness data for our clients’ and the firm’s benefit.
It’s important to our clients and people that we’re a responsible business. We published our first Positive Impact Report earlier this year, and set out our ambitions for the coming year. I’ve already talked about some, but I’d add that we’ve committed to produce a meaningful plan to achieve Net Zero.
Lastly, we’re looking at how we provide the very best working environment. We moved into new offices in 2019, six months before the first lockdown, and they were designed as a fully agile, flexible space. We’re re-thinking this space to encourage more flexibility and collaboration – while recognising that lawyers always need quiet areas!
It’s set to be a busy but exciting year. Growth means we can keep investing more into our people and resources. We are, and will continue to be, focused on making sure we provide an exciting, dynamic environment where our people can develop. I’m looking forward to how we can make our new vision a reality and push forward with our Ambition 24 strategy.