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Robinsons bucks the trend with help from Burgess Hodgson

Posted: February 22, 2010

Practicality and expertise are the watchwords from Robinsons Solicitors to describe the Canterbury-based legal practice’s relationship with its accountants, Burgess Hodgson.

Robinsons’ recent merger with Collings & Co is a good example of the two words put into practice, with Burgess Hodgson on hand to advise the Robinsons’ partners every step of the way in a deal which will see the firm boosting its commercial and residential property departments. “Burgess Hodgson is very practical in terms of getting the job done,” says Robinsons partner Tim Clark.

It’s an approach that has served Robinsons well over the last seven years. Burgess Hodgson was originally personally recommended on the basis that the soon-to-be Robinsons Solicitors partners needed an accountant to help in negotiating the demerger from the Robinson Allfree practice.

While other legal practices have suffered in the current economy as the work around conveyancing and commercial property has dried up, Robinsons has been able to deflect the situation with a focus on personal injury, family and litigation, which now makes up more than 50% of the firm’s work, a fact that means Robinsons is planning to grow in 2010, bucking the recent trend in the legal profession.

“We would describe ourselves as a strong general provincial practice that has grown significantly over the last seven years,” says Tim Clark. “We undertake non-contentious work such as conveyancing, probate, commercial and residential property, but over half of our business is litigation – family, personal injury, contested wills and probate, commercial and contract disputes and professional negligence. Around 80% of our work comes from client recommendations or cross-referring from within. We like to provide a one-stop shop for clients so we can offer both contentious and non-contentious work.”

Although Burgess Hodgson came highly recommended, the firm has more than proved its metal, through its professionalism, expertise and high level of advice, something that Tim believes singles the New Dover Road firm out from other accountants. “We wanted an accountant who was a business adviser and not just someone who filled in your tax return at the end of the year or filed accounts,” he says. “Burgess Hodgson is always there to bounce ideas off. What we find is that you can set your budget at the start of the year, but things are always subject to change, and it’s useful to have accountants that can provide instant feedback. This means you can plan for things, rather than getting to the end of the year and finding out your turnover hasn’t justified your profit expectations.”

Burgess Hodgson carries out quarterly management figures as well as submitting the practice’s Law Society annual accounts, and provides a quarterly report highlighting trends and areas to watch out for or improve. “Burgess Hodgson may highlight things like the age of debtors is increasing, which means we need to be pushing on our debt recovery, or it is able to share best practice because of the breadth of work the firm carries out, enabling us to benchmark ourselves and provide objectives to work towards,” says Tim.

Given the growth of Robinsons over the last seven years, its recent merger and bold plans for the future, having an accountant alongside that can provide the help the practice needs is essential. “Nothing is ever static in business,” says Tim. “We have probably had more than most to deal with, including a couple of retiring partners, the sale of our financial services department and the recent merger. We’ve always been very happy with the service Burgess Hodgson provides. They are not a run-of-the-mill accountants: there’s active involvement throughout the course of the year.”

“We see Burgess Hodgson very much alongside us as we move forwards, hopefully as we increase the size of the partnership and grow even further,” Tim continues. “Burgess Hodgson can provide advice on the business structure going forward.” With a mixture of practical advice and expertise, it’s a relationship that continues to strengthen.