DWF eyes IPO to help increase investment in technology and connected services

In line with its strategy of ‘doing things differently’ and in order to help increase its investment in technology and connected services, DWF may shortly become the largest law firm to float on the London Stock Market with a valuation of up to £1bn, The Times reports today (15 June) and the UK top 25 law firm has confirmed in a statement.
The flotation would be the largest since Slater & Gordon shook the legal market with its 2007 listing on the Australian stock exchange.
In a statement today the firm said:

“DWF’s strategy is to become a truly global legal business, by combining geographic reach with expertise in our primary industry sectors and doing things differently by providing our clients with access to a range of Connected Services.“To enable us to deliver on our strategy and for us to better serve our clients through an increasingly international and differentiated offering, we have plans to increase our investment in information technology and Connected Services. The current corporate structure of our business continues to work very well and has enabled us to deliver our key business objectives with record growth this year – but as a business which is committed to “doings things differently”  it is also important to consider alternative structures which can set us apart from other legal businesses.
“To that end, we have been considering a number of strategic options for our business, including the possibility of an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. If we were to proceed with an IPO, we believe that it would enable us to achieve our strategic objectives more quickly, while also enhancing our ability to attract and retain the best talent and to incentivise our people by aligning them through offering ownership within the business.
“We are focused on an IPO, however, a number of options are available to us, and we can still continue to build on our success to date, with the support of our clients, under our current structure. For the time being, it is very much business as usual for us, our clients and our business partners as we continue to focus on delivering the excellent service which our clients have come to expect of us.”

The Times reports that senior management at DWF, which has 3,000 employees, could be in for a windfall of around £10m.
DWF, which has grown aggressively through a series of mergers, having snapped up Cobbetts out of administration in 2013, has stood out in recent years for its innovative approach to client services, launching as long ago as 2015 a flexible client services offering underpinned by a combination of process mapping and Thomson Reuters Business Integrity’s automation software ContractExpress.
In April we reported that DWF was set to launch a knowledge transfer partnership  (KTP) in conjunction with the University of Manchester: a 30-month, part government-funded project overseen by Mayowa Ayodele, a data scientist from the university, which is designed to allow DWF to take advantage of the latest academic expertise in machine learning and new technologies.
In October 2017 the firm, which has long had a cloud-first strategy, launched DWF Ventures, an ideas incubator headed by Jonathan Patterson to spearhead its change and innovation agenda.
DWF would become the sixth law firm to float.