Listed law firm pioneer Gateley today hailed an ‘encouraging’ start to 2015/16 after posting an underlying improvement in profits for its last year before flotation.

The AIM-listed outfit also claimed its admission to the junior market in June has boosted its appeal to potential acquisition targets and lateral hires.

In the year to 30 April, pre-tax profits rose 32.4% on a like-for-like basis to £9.8m, on income which climbed 11.5% to £60.9m. 

Chief executive Michael Ward (pictured) said the firm benefited in 2014/15 from improved market conditions. ‘Clients began to feel cautiously optimistic about the future and therefore sought our services to implement and aid their growth plans,’ he added.

Revenues from Banking and Financial Services, which contributed a fifth of total income, rose 13% on the previous year ‘driven by an increasing number of banking transactions taking place and notable successes in recovering monies obtained through fraudulent or deceitful transactions’. 

Property - the largest business segment accounting for a third of revenues - posted a 16.1% rise, attributed to a bullish market.

Revenues from corporate deals, which yielded £10m in income, improved by 14.1%, the firm said. Gateley advised on more than 250 deals with an aggregate value in excess of £1.5bn.

The number of fee-generating staff climbed to 366 from 355 during the year with their utilisation edging up to 85% from 84%. The bonuses earned by all employees rose to 6.13% of staff payroll costs from 5.6%.

All staff received shares on the firm’s admission to AIM; Gateley is presently implementing an all-staff share ownership scheme. ‘The aim of encouraging widespread equity ownership is to attract, retain and motivate talent and to ensure all staff can benefit from the firm’s longer-term growth,’ Ward added.