Legal Business Blogs

Leadership: Wragge & Co’s Metcalfe steps down as Fennell steps up

Ian Metcalfe’s eight year stewardship of Wragge & Co as managing partner is to come to an end in April next year when current head of the firm’s projects team David Fennell will take over the role, the firm has announced.

Focusing on projects and PFI, Fennell has led the firm’s 12-partner projects team for the past six years, having joined Wragges from Herbert Smith in 1996, becoming partner in 2002. His stand out projects include advising Amey on two high-profile multi-billion pound highways deals in 2012.

Senior partner Quentin Poole told Legal Business: ‘Generally we try to avoid head to head elections so it’s been my job in the last two or three years since Ian said he’d step down at the end of his term, to do some general canvassing and debating. Over a number of meetings with partners, we aired possible candidates (there were four or

five possible contenders) and came to a consensus.

‘It will be the first time in eight years the firm will have a new managing partner and the last one was eight years before that, so it’s a big deal.’

Fennell added: ‘The legal market is changing. Clients are asking for more, the market is consolidating and no law firm can afford to be complacent. Wragge & Co has a clear strategy. We are in a good position, with our people, clients, culture and reputation to thrive in a competitive market. I am looking forward to my new role and to helping the firm grow and develop.’

Since Metcalfe, who will return to fee-earning in the corporate practice, took over in 2006, the firm has increased its turnover by 19% from £101.3m at the end of 2005-06 to £120.5 at the end of last financial year. The firm has also expanded outside the UK opening offices in Munich, Paris, Guangzhou and the United Arab Emirates, adding to the firm’s base in Brussels, which opened in 1999.

Wragges, which undertakes the majority of its work in its 800-strong Birmingham office, has in recent years pushed to strengthen its 200-strong City base, increasing the number of partners by 42 across a wide-range of practice areas, including a number of lateral hires. The election comes as the firm prepares to move to bigger Birmingham premises in Snow Hill.

Key hires for the firm include most recently former DAC Beachcroft real estate partner Reena Patel, who joined Wragges as a commercial development and investment partner last month, which came shortly after the appointment of a four-lawyer real estate team in Paris led by partner Constance de La Hosseraye.

Others to join the firm include former Norton Rose Middle East infrastructure head Jonathan Brufal, qualified barrister Duncan Field who joined Wragges’ planning and regeneration team, and former Dundas & Wilson real estate litigation partner Martin Thomas, who all joined the firm last year.