Duncan Shepherd, director and head of company commercial at Wake Smith Solicitors, looks back at the legal sector in 2015 and views 2016 from the company’s new state-of-the-art offices in Sheffield city centre.
Since the beginning of 2015 we have seen a marked increase in transactional work acting for buyers, sellers and banks.
Generally this work involves acting for clients in the manufacturing, industrial, healthcare, IT and professional services and property investment sectors.
This stems from the renewed confidence of the banks to lend and businesses carrying out reorganisations with a view to sale in due course.
In March and April, we have seen a flurry of completions on deals with an aggregate value of over £30 million across a number of these sectors.
We are also seeing improved intake of cases across several of our other departments and while sectors such as employment and litigation have capacity, we know this is due to the cyclical nature of business.
Our diversification means we remain competitive and focused on growth.
Our commercial property division is taking advantage of a high level of activity in the region with new and exciting companies moving to the area and existing businesses looking to build new projects and add to their portfolio.
Much of last year was about planning our move into city centre offices, and three months in it is already paying dividends.
The change has been a big upheaval for the business, but has had many positive benefits.
It has forced the company to reassess how it operates, changed the way in which the business is perceived by clients and within the industry, and will provide greater operational efficiency as we are all consolidated into one building after many years of operating from split headquarters.
Cross referrals and transactions are now much simpler with all our divisions under one roof, and it is proving much easier to bounce ideas off each other.
The new office is a great showcase for our company’s brand, has reinforced our commitment to Sheffield City Region and positions us in much closer proximity to the heart of the city and our business contacts.
Wake Smith’s renewed profile, reinforced by our prestigious workspace at Velocity, is already helping to attract a very high calibre of fee earners and support staff eager to be part of the company’s growth.
We needed the move to confirm our position as a dynamic and progressive law firm, and it has achieved this.
“Generally, I would say that overall, the legal sector is benefiting from the state of the economy with the continued buying and selling aspects for residential, commercial and corporate transactions.
To me, it feels like it is moving in the right direction.
Looking ahead, recent statements about the economy have highlighted that it may not be as buoyant as expected.
This may lead to market uncertainty, but for now, we will have to wait and see.