With the sports sector rapidly transforming from a collection of national cottage industries into big business, Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has substantially beefed up its practice with a takeover of boutique Couchmans.
Founded in 2001 by Nic Couchman, the four-partner firm has seven other fee earners. Heavily focused on sports clients, its practice covers corporate, data protection and intellectual property. Once the combination is complete, Couchman will become head of sport at the top 50 UK law firm. The other three transferring partners are Jody MacDonald (commercial and IP), Nick White (IP) and Satish Khandke (corporate). The takeover will further position CRS in the sports field, where the firm has nine partners operating.
The high-profile boutique has handled a range of senior clients in recent years including Mo Farah (pictured), the Association of European Professional Football Leagues and Fitbit.
For CRS, the tie-up goes some way to making up for the loss of a four-partner sports law team which spun off to create the boutique Northridge last October. The founding partners of Northridge, Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen, had previously led CRS’ sports law team to tier 1 in The Legal 500.
CRS managing partner James Carter told Legal Business: ‘We see sport as a global industry and more than just sport, everything comes together in lifestyle areas. We have recently launched in Hong Kong and Dubai, so we’re well-placed. The clients and the people we work with need an international offering and a personalised offering, this tie-up achieves both of these things.’
Couchman observed: ‘The sports market has grown beyond recognition. But we are very strong on the commercial side, as well as governance and regulatory and image rights. There are huge challenges but also legal opportunities in this global industry. This next step in our development allows us to meet the needs of our clients who want sector specialist advice across the full range of legal disciplines with a global outlook.’
For the 2016/17 financial year, CRS recorded a 3% growth in revenue to £144m alongside an 8% jump in profit per equity partner.