Rob Elvin talks growth, new hires, the firm’s recent office move and much more
Rob, how was 2017 for the Manchester office and wider firm?
It was another strong year for our firm at a global and local level. We recorded our best year ever in 2016 and we are on course to announce a similarly strong set of financial results for 2017.
What were the real growth areas last year?
In Manchester, our Competition, Antitrust and Labour & Employment teams experienced the most significant growth, but we’re pleased with the performance of all of our practices. We’ve seen an increase in the number of corporate deals managed from Manchester, demonstrating the growth of our reputation in this field – we won “Law Firm of the Year” at Insider North West Dealmakers Awards 2017 – but also underlining our strong position within the firm’s global network. With 47 offices across 20 countries, the service we can offer to our clients is a strong differentiator in Manchester.
Do you think that will change in 2018?
We expect more of the same; 2018 has begun in the same vein as 2017, and there is real momentum amongst our practices. Our recent hires in areas such as Corporate and Real Estate are making very good progress and, coupled with our considerable experience in construction, infrastructure and transportation, we are well-placed to support the continued efforts being made to rebalance the UK economy and rejuvenate our regional cities.
Did you make any big hires last year?
As the firm continues to grow in Manchester, we are strengthening our capabilities with the appointment of highly skilled, specialist lawyers across all of our practices. This year we have grown our Infrastructure practice with the appointment of partner Nick Helm, strengthening our profile as the firm to advise on infrastructure and policy related to the Northern Powerhouse. We also added two new corporate partners, Andrea Cropley and James Fitzgibbon, together with a number of corporate lawyers, which now makes our Corporate team one of the largest in the North West. We also hired partner Kerry Lee, the former Head of Group Intellectual Property of Walgreens Boots Alliance, in December.
That said, it is worth pointing out that we have a long tradition of cultivating our own talent – so, for example, our European Managing Partner Jane Haxby, trained and qualified with the firm in Manchester – and we invest heavily in our trainees and have a highly successful training contract scheme running in Manchester and across our other UK offices.
Manchester Corporate partner Giles Chesher is the firm’s training principal and, accordingly, I am particularly close to developments in this area. We launched our successful "Be One of Us" graduate campaign, which saw application numbers triple last year. We also use digital assessment methods and recruitment technology (including a data capture application), have developed new careers webpages and have a dedicated Emerging Talent team, all to increase the quality of our hires.
You made the move to No.1 Spinningfields last month. How did it go?
The move went extremely well. While we have a long history in Manchester, this is our first purpose-built office here and we are delighted with our new home. It mixes the modern with the traditional, encourages collaborative and flexible working, and the views are amazing.
How has the team reacted to their new working environment?
As all of our lawyers are now on two floors, the working environment has helped to foster an even greater sense of team spirit, enabling our practices to work more closely together on client projects. We’re also located in the heart of the business community now, which makes it easier to stay connected with other professionals that we work with.
Any regrets and any advice for other firms which are on the relocation journey?
Start planning early. Pick the right teams to support on the project, agree the design and specification early and stick to it. Addressing the big decisions head-on makes a real difference to the end result.
Have you got any exciting projects in the pipeline this year?
As office managing partner, I am in the fortunate position to have an oversight of many different projects and there’s a lot going on! Since we’ve just moved to our new office we are developing plans to make the most of the new facilities, with plans to showcase the office to clients and professionals working in collaboration with organisations such as the Manchester-India Partnership, MIDAS, the Chamber, and EEF.
Brexit is now looming large. What’s your view from a commercial perspective?
Our view is that change creates opportunity. This time last year, I mentioned that a point of differentiation for our firm is our public policy and international trade capabilities. As the UK negotiates its exit from the EU and seeks to forge new trading relationships around the world, we see many opportunities for forward-thinking UK businesses and our firm.
Finally, what would you personally like to achieve this year?
I want to help take the Manchester office to the next level in terms of profile and financial targets, I would like to do a skydive for our office charity and want West Ham to stay in the Premier League.