Law firm MSB set to break through £10m barrier

Liverpool law firm MSB Solicitors is set to break through the £10m revenue barrier for the first time in its history as it looks to expand in Manchester and open its first Chester office. Tony McDonough reports

Emma Carey
Emma Carey, managing partner at MSB Solicitors, is expecting further growth in 2024


MSB Solicitors has set a revenue target of £10.5m for the 2023/24 financial year, which would see it break through the £10m barrier for the first time in its 35-year history.

In its latest accounts for the 12 months to February 28, 2023, just filed on Companies House, MSB is reporting revenues of £9.4m, broadly the same as the previous year. Pre-tax profit of just under £1.5m is down from the £1.74m reported in 2022.

Writing in the report, managing partner Emma Carey blamed the impact of COVID for the decline in profitability as well as the cost of investment into support infrastructure including accounts, IT and training.

However, she added the firm had “recruited heavily” during the pandemic and was now well placed to see more growth over the next year. She is aiming to push revenues in the current financial year to £10.5m.

Emma, a family law specialist, became managing partner of MSB in March 2018, taking over from Paul Bibby. He founded the firm along with Sean Sexton in 1988. When Emma took the helm the firm’s annual revenues were around the £5m mark.

She sees Manchester and Cheshire as key growth areas for MSB, which has its headquarters at No 4 St Paul’s Square in Liverpool’s commercial district. 

Its first Manchester office was opened in March 2022 and this has already expanded from six desks to 22 desks. MSB has ambitions to move to a new office in the city.

Emma says she and her team have identified “massive opportunities” for growth in Manchester and Cheshire, adding: “We hope to obtain a Legal Aid contract for family (law) in Chester and open an office there.”

She also said: “We are open to expansion by acquisition and merger but the fit would have to be right and we are not actively seeking this expansion. We have explored several opportunities in the last 12 months but none have felt right for MSB.”

During the year MSB employed 176 people, including 19 partners. Among new recruits to the firm were 19 new paralegals and nine new trainees.

Its people currently work across four offices – Liverpool city centre, Manchester, Wavertree in south Liverpool and Widnes in Cheshire.

The firm is currently looking for new space in Widnes but it is planning to close its Wavertree office and relocate staff into the city centre. Having also just closed its Allerton office this would end its long-standing connection with south Liverpool.

Emma added profitability would also be boosted by the recent recruitment of senior staff whose fee generation will not impact for 12 to 18 months.


Emma Carey took over as managing partner from Paul Bibby in 2018


She added: “Certain departments continue to perform higher than others… family, housing regeneration and litigation.

“Commercial property is now performing with increased profitability due to the expansion of our banking and finance team. Crime and PI (personal injury) should see an increase in profitability in this financial year. Residential property should break even in 2023/24.”

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According to the accounts MSB paid dividends of just over £709,000 during the 12-month period. Directors’ remuneration, including pension payments, totalled £158,720. “Key management personnel” were paid just over £533,000. MSB has also changed accountants from BWM to DSG, both Liverpool firms.

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