The toll of top UK law firms opening in Scotland increased today (17 March) with the announcement that Berrymans Lace Mawer and HBM Sayers are combining to create a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners.
The new offering, called BLM, will house 630 lawyers and technical specialists with operations across 12 offices in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. HBM has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.
The merger came after client reviews at both firms had revealed a significant market opportunity for legal suppliers ‘with the physical presence and expertise to support clients throughout the UK and Ireland,’ the firms said.
Both firms already have a presence in the general insurance sector, the London market, and amongst brokers. The objective of the merger is to boost their standing among corporate insurers, the public sector and the healthcare industry.
Berrymans’ has turned out a largely positive financial performance in recent years with revenues up 4% in the last financial year to £84.7m, although profit per equity partner dropped 12% to £224,000. Since 2008, revenues have risen by a substantial 63%
HBM Sayers meanwhile, is acknowledged as a first-tier and second-tier firm in personal injury and health & safety matters respectively by the Legal 500, while also securing panel appointments in recent years with Aviva, AXA, Alianz and QBE.
Berrymans’ senior partner Mike Brown said: ‘We’re excited about helping our clients to save time and money reducing risk, resolving disputes and managing claims. As BLM we will be able to do that across more lines of business and in more locations for more clients. The combination will give us a competitive edge at a time when Scotland’s legal market is changing, presenting our business with significant opportunities.’
Chair of the HBM Sayers management board, David Taylor added: ‘Both businesses have been open about their ambitions to grow. This is absolutely right because we share many of the same clients and have a similar style and approach to meeting the needs of those clients. The things clients say they like about Berrymans Lace Mawer are the same things that they say they like about HBM Sayers.’
While the prediction that 2014 will be another record year for law firm mergers has not, so far, been borne out, other UK firms to have secured a Scottish tie-up include CMS Cameron McKenna and Dundas & Wilson announced last December, while in 2012 Pinsent Masons tied up with McGrigors and DWF combined with Biggart Baillie, although in the same year Kennedys and Simpson Marwick called off their merger talks.