The largest listed law firm on the London Stock Exchange says half-year profits are already close to the figures posted for the whole of last year.

In a largely positive interim trading statement published today, DWF said underlying adjusted profit before tax was £13m for the six months to 31 October. This is said to be close to the full year 2019/20 comparator of £14m.

The board said today it remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the full-year outlook despite current conditions and that the business is well prepared to work remotely during further lockdowns.

The firm, the only legal business on the main share market, will be keen to show investors it has recovered from the initial financial blow experienced following the first lockdown.

To that end, it reports that group revenue growth of more than 14% against the half-year revenue last year of £147m.

The firm also states that cost reduction initiatives have improved gross and net margins compared to last year.

DWF states these revenue and cost dynamics have delivered an increase in underlying adjusted profit before tax of more than 25% compared to the prior year, although there are no figures disclosed for unadjusted profits.

Net debt is down by around 9% to £59m on the 20 April position, largely by reducing lock-up days by around 10 since April. Further improving lockup days remains a ‘key area’ of operational focus and represents an opportunity for further reductions to borrowings.

Sir Nigel Knowles, who was appointed as chief executive in May, said: ‘We have seen a very pleasing recovery in activity levels since the dip caused by Covid-19 in Q4 of FY20. We have prioritised organic growth, acquisition integration and operational efficiency and this focus, combined with our cost reduction measures, has delivered strong profit improvement for the group.’

Full results for the first two quarters of 2020/21 will be published later this year. DWF Group shares rose 4.6% to 84.2p following the interim trading statement. They had been trading at 140p in the weeks prior to the March lockdown.