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UK Regional Firms
Wragge & Co (Birmingham)
Wragges has 121 partners and 572 other fee earners operating from its head office in Birmingham and other offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Guangzhou, and Munich, plus affiliated offices in the United Arab Emirates.
The firm did well in the boom, regularly posting double digit rises in turnover which stood at £125 million for 2007/2008. But the downturn had its inevitable effect on a firm with such a focus on property (28% of its work is real estate). Revenue dropped by 18% in 2008/9 and then again by 7% to £96.2m in 2009/10. And headcount took a nosedive after 32 redundancies were made in 2010. Headcount further reduced this year, when 30 PA jobs were at risk of redundancy in London and Birmingham.
Recently things do seem to be on the up for the firm, which posted an impressive 17% hike in revenue to £113m in 2010/11. And the riches have spread to partnership with profits per partner jumping from £276k to £329k in the same period (although still way down on the £470k PEP of 2008). Still, as one of the few proper partnerships left in the regions (every partner has a stake in the equity), this is good news for aspiring assistants. It's also good news for trainees - the firm's trainee retention rate is traditionally very high.
Wragges has been slowly expanding its international footprint, adding a Munich office and two China offices in 2009. More recently, the firm launched a Paris office in 2010. And after eyeing up the Middle East for a few years, it has entered into affiliations with two firms in the UAE (one in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi). It's now in merger talks with Lawrence Graham - a firm that has had its fair share of failed merger talks. Earlier this year it ended merger talks with our Golden Turd winner Irwin Mitcell and failed to merge with Field Fisher Waterhouse.
Merger or no merger, the test for Wragges is now ensuring that the firm increases the quality as well as quantity of its work. The signs are promising. The firm's client base includes more than 30 FTSE 100 companies including the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, BP, BT, HSBC and 3i. The firm's work areas are corporate, human resources, dispute resolution, finance projects, technology and real estate.
Wragges remains a solid firm with an excellent reputation. Lawyers at the firm praise the "
" and, more importantly, "
lots of boozing".
The firm received high praise for its catering, "
mars bar cakes ares still amazing"
though one insider comments "
They have invested in branded three tier cake stands for the afternoon tea, whilst pay rises have been dismal for the past four years".
Bear in mind that the sort of work the firm undertakes for big-hitting clients necessitates long hours, and there are grumbles about the "
regional salary, but City hours"
. But that must be a concern of any regional firm doing first rate work, and at least - according to our readers, it has the best biscuits and cakes of any firm in the country. In our view, the pick of Birmingham.
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RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores
Firm of the year overall score:
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24 hour secretarial support:
Explanation and source of figures
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85 more jobs are at risk at the firm, as partners warn staff that they'll be offered a tight-arsed settlement...
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