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Tech focus pays off for Mincoffs

Friday 9 November 2012 5:51

One of Newcastle’s oldest law firms has enjoyed a flurry of contract wins in the tech sector after eyeing a gap in what it says is a poorly served industry in the region.

The law firm Harry Mincoff opened on Grainger Street to a world of ration books and post-war poverty looks very different to the outfit which today is based a couple of miles away in Jesmond.

Firstly there were just two members of staff in 1948 compared to 40+ today, while much of Harry’s work focused on criminal law in contrast to the diversified offering at Mincoffs currently.

But by the time the firm celebrates its 65th birthday next year, it could look markedly different again, if the group’s renewed vigour in the digital and technology sector continues its momentum.

A considered focus on the needs of tech firms – and the tech needs of other businesses such as website development contracts – has seen the group register a sharp upturn in IT and digital-related commercial activity.

Over the last 12 months the firm has added London internet media plc Media Corporation to its client base, alongside a number of other digital and technology firms including Bede Gaming, Gemana Ltd, Orcuma Ltd and Telenomics Ltd. In all there are around 20 such firms now on its books.

As cited in the Legal500, another recent highlight is the firm’s advisory work with mobile operator network Emailvision on its agreements with Sainsbury’s.

Chief executive Andy Woodhouse, whose role was created last year bring more commercial focus to Mincoffs, said: “An increasing number of the firm’s newer clients are in the technology and digital media sectors and these clients are capable of providing significant revenues to the firm. With this in mind and the documented growth within the technology sector in the North East, we will look to grow this sector.

“The business landscape is becoming increasingly digital and moving online. Many of these new digital businesses are based in the North East, with the region boasting more new technology start-ups than any area of the UK outside London.

“Initially stimulated by governmental funding grants and subsidised start-up costs, the regional digital economy has proved resilient despite the recession, with extensive linkages between innovation centres, business support networks, universities, top quality incubator facilities and an excellent range of high-tech business parks.”

The company says it wishes to position itself as a “viable alternative for small to medium IT, intellectual property and media businesses in Newcastle, on Teesside and beyond”.

“We’re looking to create a platform to promote the existing expertise and grow its market share of work in this sector by capturing new instructions through a focused marketing strategy,” Woodhouse says.

Meanwhile, after remaining relatively flat between 2009 (the year it demerged with fellow North East firm Jacksons) and 2011, Woodhouse says the company is now targeting growth in a number of additional areas.

The recruitment of nationally reputed divorce lawyer Lyn Rutherford in September is sure to lift the firm’s family practice, not least through his weighty contacts book.

“Intellectual property and trademarks is also a new area of growth for is,” says Woodhouse, while the firm’s residential conveyancing business is up 60% in the last 12 months.

“Our turnover should be between 18% and 20% up this year,” he says.

Much of the company’s optimism stems from its recent investment in new technology which enables it to better manage its relationships with its customers.

Who knows what the late Harry Mincoff – who was known as the poor man’s lawyer and spent his days dealing with notorious criminal villains – would make of such new-fangled commercialism.