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DWF London marks a decade in the capital

02 July 2018
International legal business DWF is celebrating the ten year anniversary of its London presence, a decade that for DWF has been defined by ambitious growth, innovation and transformation.
From its origin as a two-partner insurance team in 2008, DWF's London office has expanded into a 400-strong full-service practice based in the capital's iconic Walkie Talkie building that serves as a central hub for the business's growing global network. DWF London initially launched in 2008 with the hire of a small catastrophic injury team from Davies Lavery and since then has experienced significant organic as well as M&A-driven growth. The business has had a particular focus on growing its commercial services practice, with over half of DWF's London office now practicing across the business's real estate, litigation and corporate service lines. Over the last decade, DWF has also been at the forefront of change in the legal industry. Following a £12m investment in technology, which saw DWF roll out new IT infrastructure and communication tools to facilitate flexible working across the business, DWF became the first UK law firm with an entirely agile London office. The business's continued investments in tech and innovation, including the launch of Connected Services, the arm of the business dedicated to specialist legal, non-legal and consultative services, led to DWF being ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top ten most innovative law firms in Europe.

The business also has a strong commitment to people investment and engagement, which is reflected in the firm's track record of bringing junior lawyers through to partnership, including Dominic Watkins, now Head of Food Group, and Rhys Sanchez, a partner in DWF's insurance team. This people-focused approach is also underpinned by DWF's commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion through its offices in order to retain and attract top talent in the industry. London-based partner Seema Bains, who joined DWF in 2009, is the Head of the DWF's Diversity Steering Group and was recently shortlisted for Legal Advisor of the Year at the 2018 Women in Finance awards.

Now led by Executive Partner and Head of Retail, Food and Hospitality Hilary Ross, DWF London advises a number of household names including Marks & Spencer, HDI Global SE, Chubb Insurance, Lloyds Banking, HSBC and Barclays and has made a series of high-profile lateral hires over the past twelve months, with a particular focus on growing its City corporate practice. Last year saw the appointment of corporate heavyweights Mel Sims, formerly of DLA Piper and Andrew Carpenter, formerly of Addleshaw Goddard, who joined DWF's Head of Corporate in London Matthew Doughty to create a powerhouse team in the City. The London team has advised on high profile deals such as acting for Investec Bank plc in relation to a £17m placing by AIM-listed interior furnishings group Walker Greenbank plc and advising PepsiCo UK on the sale of its Boxford Farm juice processing and manufacturing business to Belgian-headquartered drinks manufacturer and supplier Koning Juices & Drinks UK.

Hilary Ross, Executive Partner of DWF's London office, said: "The last ten years have seen a tremendous amount of change in the legal market, and with that has come a fair amount of challenges and uncertainty. Throughout this, DWF has embraced a mindset of innovation and disruption, which has allowed us to meet these challenges head on, adapt to the pace of change and maintain a forward-thinking approach for our clients. As a comparatively young firm in the City we have never been restricted by tradition or 'the old way' of doing things, driven by the exceptional talent and sector knowledge of our people, has allowed us to be truly different in our approach.

"As we've grown, DWF's London office has evolved into a powerhouse in its own right and provides a fantastic shop window for our national platform as well as a being a connective hub for our international offices. It's been a truly unprecedented decade, not only for DWF but for our sector as a whole, and we look forward to seeing what the next decade brings for us."

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