Howard Gold, senior partner at Mincoffs, has described this year as the most significant in the firm's 60-year history.
An additional 4,000sqft of office space has been bought by the partners to accommodate the ever-expanding Jesmond firm that has seen a 10% increase in fee earners in the past 12 months. Mincoffs now employs in excess of 90 staff.
The firm's year began with the arrival of Richard Arnot from Dickinson Dees as a partner and head of the licensing department.
Richard is recognised as the leading licensing lawyer in the North-East. His clients include national pub and hotel chains, regional operators and many others. His knowledge of the new Licensing Act has been particularly remarked upon.
He was soon followed by another new partner, Henry Cave, a well respected commercial property lawyer who arrived in December. Henry has recruited Martin Scales and Keith Ravenhill to strengthen his team, which has advised on transactions with a value of over £250m this year. This figure was, however, eclipsed by the corporate services department, which advised in deals with a value of almost £500m.
Paul Hughes and John Nicholson comment that the year ahead has every prospect of being even busier. Clients remain up-beat and increasingly active.
Despite predictions of a downturn, business in the North-East remains buoyant.
Mincoffs clients aren't, however, restricting their activities to the UK but are looking worldwide for opportunities. Paul has recently received instructions in a £15m deal with an oil company based in Houston, Texas.
The firm's ability to advise international clients was further demonstrated this year when the corporate services department represented a Belize company, funded by investors from Vietnam and Australia, who bought a polymer processing business in the South of England for an undisclosed sum.
John has been pleased to announce that Anthony Hall, who trained with the firm will be joining his department.
Mincoffs have been particularly gratified with their Family Department. Mike Smith is acknowledged as one of the most experienced practitioners in the area who, with his wife Mary, represent the firm's matrimonial clients. While not having quite as exciting lives as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie equivalent of Mr and Mrs Smith, the feedback from their clients is always flattering. Mike has a particularly no nonsense approach which, in the midst of divorce proceedings, is reassuringly supportive.
Clients continue to comment on the effectiveness of the firm's litigation department, which has expanded with the arrival of Sue Roberts, Emily Greenshields, Claire Metcalf (a qualified nurse) and the soon to be qualified Lisa Ravenscroft in the clinical team. Jonathon Stokes, head of department, has represented clients in a number of high profile cases this year.
In addition to successfully pursuing a Judicial Review before the House of Lords, Jonathon has represented clients in the Employment Tribunal, EAT as well as the High Court. The depth of his team is demonstrated by the way in which it is able to resource client's needs at short notice, an absolute requirement in litigation terms.
Sue Roberts represents local traders as a unique point, including market bye-laws, and the clinical team continues to be involved in claims of all description and value.
As the business grows, the partners are keen to maintain the firm's culture of integrating a traditional, personal approach to legal services with a commercial attitude. Clients often make a positive distinction between the Mincoffs approach to client care and that of what might be described as the commercial heavyweight law firms. The partners are keen to maintain this distinction while providing an equivalent expertise, and always being conscious of providing value for money.
Steven Rankin, Chief Executive of Metnor plc, said: "We have instructed Mincoffs for many years and continue to be impressed with the service that they are able to provide to us. Their willingness to turn around deals quickly and at a realistic cost has allowed us to build a constructive relationship with them. It also helps that, on a personal level, the partners are easy to get on with."
To round off an excellent year, the firm was awarded Lexcel accreditation by the Law Society.