In another blow to the flagging UK arm of Slater and Gordon (S&G), 33 of the firm’s lawyers have departed to staff insurance specialist BLM’s new commercial advisory practice.
The team, which includes 11 partners, has joined BLM today (2 October) to run the new practice which will be spread across the firm’s Manchester and London offices.
Four of the new lawyers will launch a business advisory offering, which will focus on company and corporate law, intellectual property and information technology. A team of 15 non-contentious commercial real estate lawyers have also moved across from S&G, in addition to four employment and ten litigation lawyers.
Former S&G commercial property partner Stephen Lintott will head the new commercial advisory business division.
BLM senior partner Mike Brown commented: ‘We’ve made no secret of the fact that we want to diversify into additional areas of law which complement our core insurance offering.
‘We have engaged in discussions with Slater and Gordon for quite some time. We knew they were making plans to restructure their business to focus on core consumer services and we were seriously exploring our diversification strategy. It is a logical move for both businesses.’
A spokesperson for S&G confirmed that the team departing for BLM came from the firm’s main UK business, not its Slater Gordon Solutions (SGS) branch.
SGS, the re-branded version of the Quindell professional services division, has been the subject of buyout interest from BLM. BLM released a statement in September, confirming that conversations between the two firms about ‘working closely’ with the professional services branch were in the ‘early stages’.
Listed firm S&G completed the buyout of Quindell’s (now known as Watchstone Group) professional services division in March 2015 for a £637m fee.
But S&G ran into financial difficulty after Quindell came under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over its accounting policies. For the six months ending 31 December 2015 S&G posted an A$958m loss, primarily due to a hefty write-down of its UK business.
In June, S&G issued a £637m claim in London’s High Court against Watchstone Group, alleging the company fraudulently misrepresented itself during the purchase.