BLAKE DAWSON WALDRON will become Blake Dawson in November as part of a re-branding of the firm, but managing partner John Atkin says the change is just the surface representation of some deeper changes.
Atkin said they would have preferred to change the name to Blakes, but the fact that Canadian firm Blakes, Cassels & Graydon already has the domain name blakes.com had ruled that out.
Blake Dawson Waldron had spent several years “clarifying the strategy of our firm, and getting alignment between our culture, strategy and structure”, as well as consulting clients on their needs and how they perceived Blakes.
“That work on branding is really the culmination of the work we have been doing over the past four or five years.” This included a review of the “culture” of Blakes by the St James Ethics Centre, work on long-term strategies assisted last year by Port Jackson Partners, as well as improving partner appraisal and performance measurement.
Atkin said part of their strategy had included reducing their client base to those that have been of greatest value to the firm, and this had assisted them to record high revenue and profit figures. This also allowed them to avoid conflict of interest problems, and improve their service.
“Out of all of that we will be relaunching the brand of the firm and changing the visual identity. But it is very much a signal of the changes we have already made and a commitment to the ambition of the firm.”
He said year on year revenue for this year is about 12 per cent higher. Revenue from “strategic clients” is up about 20 per cent, and from the firm’s top 200 clients it is up approximately 30 per cent.
“What that tells you is that the percentage of our revenue coming from our major top-200 clients has gone up significantly and that reflects the greater focus of the practice.
“It’s not rocket science, the more work you are doing with the client, the better you get to know their business objectives, and therefore the better value you should be delivering in the service you offer. And that is better for your clients and better for you.”
He agreed general economic conditions would also be a factor in the firm’s strong revenue figures, but said their revenue per partner would be better than some other firms as their partner numbers had stayed steady.
“[There’s] no question that the market is a good market this year, I think most law firms will have experienced growth,” but he said there would be higher rates of revenue growth than many other large firms at the per partner level. “Our partner numbers have in the past stayed pretty flat, in fact we have got smaller in partner numbers.”
However, the firm will announce 12 new partners with effect from 1 July, an increase on the previous year, with four of these based in Perth. “We have a very strongly client-aligned practice there around BHP Billiton, Alinta and Woodside, but also reflecting the very significant growth in the resources and energy sectors.”