Law Firm Reveals 2018 Investment Plans

Womble Bond Dickinson enjoy a busy 2017 and look forward to a successful 2018

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is hoping to "kick-on" in 2018 after completing its transatlantic merger and enjoying a busy year. The law firm's managing partner Jonathan Blair also spoke about the company's investment plans for the months ahead and called for an end to the ongoing economic uncertainty.

The firm came together with Womble Carlyle Sandridge earlier this year, with the new entity operating from 24 offices including in Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Plymouth and Southampton.

"That was the big event for us in the past 12 months," Blair told Insider.

"It started about a year ago and came to fruition at the beginning of November. That was part of how busy we were during 2017 but at the same time, we were very keen to make it clear that we didn't want it to be used as a reason for not doing other things.

"We knew it was good for both domestic and international business, so there were plenty of good reasons for doing it."

Blair said it had been another busy year for WBD, praising the performance of two divisions in particular.

"Private wealth was strong and that has continued into the current financial period, so the back end of 2017, which is nice as it's a distinguishing feature for us. Firms in the legal community are primarily regarded as being corporate/commercial entities but we have this unique selling point.

"Real estate performed well too. It's a more traditional offering but it continues to be strong, despite Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty.

"We did see a dip in transactional activity in corporate M&A because the uncertainty is still there but this is the advantage of working in a partnership. We've a broad offering so because you're never going to get all divisions running over line at the same time, it protects the business.

" Speaking of the firm's success overseas, having established alliances in France, Germany and the US, Blair said it stems from drawing up plans for international growth "two to three years ago".

"We didn't want to hit a glass ceiling," he added. "Most of that traction has been coming from the US. "We wanted to capitalise on the strong bond between our countries. You never quite know the strength of it but that relationship is always there. Governments come and go.

"We want to build on those opportunities as Womble Bond Dickinson."

In 2018, Blair wants WBD to "kick-on".

"We've agreed a programme of activity around financial KPIs, developing and strengthening our domestic opportunities and delivering on the platform we have in the US.

"What we chose to do there was intended to strengthen our domestic footprint too. Looking back at the market research, there was a huge number of UK businesses doing work in the US and vice versa, so it actually benefits what we do at home.

"Uncertainty isn't good for any business either, so we would prefer a more certain climate and I'm sure I'm not alone in that."

Blair added that WBD will "very definitely" be investing in its UK operations next year.

"We've always done it and have a very active programme around lateral hires and promotions, and that will continue.

"It puts us on the map and makes us more attractive for a lot of very good reasons."