North-west firm Linder Myers has filed notice of its intention to appoint administrators.
The notice was filed today at the Manchester District Registry Court, the firm has confirmed.
The firm, which has offices in Manchester, Lancashire, Shropshire and Chester, has expanded rapidly through mergers in the last few years. It employs 260 staff and has 51 partners, and posted turnover of £18.7m for the year ending 30 November 2013, ranking it just outside the top 100.
Bernard Seymour, managing partner at Linder Myers in Manchester said: ‘The increasingly challenging environment in which law firms are operating has made trading very difficult in recent years.
‘Following a successful period of growth at Linder Myers, the last few months and the Christmas period in particular, proved difficult and we have taken the decision to file an intention to appoint administrators in order to protect the business and our valued employees and partners.’
He added the firm is currently having ‘positive negotiations’ with a number of interested parties with a view to either selling the business or merging with another firm.
‘Linder Myers’ clients will remain unaffected as business continues to trade as usual,’ said Seymour.
The LLP’s most recent published accounts cover the year to 30 November 2012. They show a marginal annual increase in turnover to £15.9m and a big jump in profit before tax, from £2.2m in 2011 to £4.3m.
Drawings increased in the year from £2.2m to £2.7m and the share of profit taken by the the highest-paid member rose from £125,000 to £191,000. The average number of members increase from 32 to 46 and their average profit was £93,000, compared with almost £70,000 the year before.
Staff numbers also leapt during the year, from 165 to 228, pushing employment costs up by 35% to more than £6m.
In its narrative report for the 2011/12 the firm identified the ongoing recession as ‘the most significant risk to the business’ which ‘remains reliant on the ongoing support of lenders to provide the working capital necessary’. However, the firm said it expected ‘enhanced profitability’ to continue ‘throughout 2013/14 and beyond’.
Linder Myers went on an acquisition spree during the period in question, merging with five practices and adding £8m to turnover.
This included Shropshire-based Turnbull Garrard Solicitors, Chester-based Drummonds Solicitors, Lancashire firm Senior Calveley & Hardy Solicitors, Manchester-based SNG Commercial Law, and Manchester firm Rowlands Field Cunningham.
In 2010 Linder Myers merged with Manchester firm Apfel Carter and in 2009 with Lancashire firm Rostrons.