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Grant Dearlove to resign from AF Legal Group

After leading the AF Legal Group and Australian Family Lawyers for almost three decades, Grant Dearlove has resigned from the group, which follows the recent release of its FY23 financial results, showing an 11 per cent increase in revenue but an overall NPAT loss of $8.1 million.

user iconLauren Croft 13 September 2023 Big Law
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Grant Dearlove recently notified AF Legal Group of his intention to resign from his current consulting role as legal practice director at the completion of the company’s 2023 annual general meeting (AGM) on 14 November 2023.

AF Legal Group chairman Rick Dennis said that Mr Dearlove had been an instrumental part of the growth and success of Australian Family Lawyers since the company listed on the ASX in June 2019.

“Joining the company to steer its successful listing on the ASX, Grant assumed the role of executive chair of the company from March 2019 until June 2022. During this period, the company successfully navigated the COVID pandemic, acquired six law firms, expanded to 20 locations, and undertook two successful capital raises,” he said.

 
 

“Grant led the company to become the largest national family law firm in Australia. After stepping down as chair, and director prior to the 2022 AGM, Grant has acted as a consultant to AFL. Since its listing, revenue has grown from $4.9 million to $18.8 million in financial year 2023. The board of AFL wishes Grant every success as he now pursues his many business interests outside the group.”

This comes after AF Legal Group recorded a net profit after tax (NPAT) loss of $8.1 million for the financial year ending 30 June 2023 despite recovering slightly from half-year losses in the second half of 2023.

Total net assets for the group were down $7.9 million on the prior year ($14.9 million in 2022) to $7 million but up slightly on the FY23 half-year position of $6.9 million. In the first half of FY23, the group recorded a $463,000 loss, following a $407,000 loss in the second half of FY22.

In the second half of FY23, the group delivered a net profit before tax (NPBT) attributable of $622,000. The normalised NPBT attributable for the financial year ended at a profit of $159,000.

Revenue for FY23 for the group was up 11.2 per cent on the prior corresponding period (PCP), with the second half of 2023 particularly strong, up 20.1 per cent. The results follow the completion of a thorough review and adjustment of all balance sheet items to reflect a stronger focus on financial discipline.

“The board acknowledges the disappointing nature of these full-year results, which were the result of the prudent actions taken and outlined in our financial results for the first half ended 31 December 2022. The promise outlined in that announcement is reflected in a second-half NPBT attributable to the owners of the AF Legal Group Limited of $622,000. This is a significant improvement on losses of ($463,000) and ($407,000) for H1 FY23 and H2 FY22, respectively,” AF Legal Group stated in an announcement to the ASX.

“The momentum has built across the half also, with the NPBT attributable lifting from $213,000 in Q3 to $409,000 in Q4. The ‘phasing adjustments’ made in the table above help to reflect actual timing of accrued profit. They have been made following a final and thorough review of legacy accounting practices within the firm. The board is intent on ensuring that in FY24, the presentation of results is more consistent and transparent.”

AFL Withnalls’ Northern Territory contributed $1.85 million to the increase in revenue, with a further $600,000 coming from newer late 2022 opening operations in Wollongong and the Gold Coast. Allowing for this, the remainder of the group saw a slight decline in revenue (excluding disbursements) of $550,000, with Watts McCray Sydney, AFL Melbourne, and AFL Canberra all down slightly. Revenue trends for all brands and practices were significantly stronger in H2, with all brands and most offices showing second-half growth.

“Whilst the back half of FY23 was characterised by a focus on our existing business, we also made changes for the future, refreshing our senior executive structure with the appointments of Chris McFadden as CEO and Stace Boardman as chief financial and operation officer in early July 2023,” the firm said in a statement.

“Chris and Stace are both passionate about the importance of our people, and the board and management have elevated the priority of building a truly people-first culture within AFL. We have already taken positive steps in this regard, including implementing several new policies and a revised incentive program for our fee earners. We are confident that this shift will position us as an employer of choice in the continuing competitive market for professional talent.”