It is often said that the legal industry excels in extreme market conditions and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s 2020 financial results bear testament to that, with the firm’s London office proving again bullish on the back of a stellar run of restructuring matters.
City revenue grew a pacy 19% to $149.2m from $125.1m last year meaning that the London office has bolstered its revenue 55% since 2017. These results are something of a return to form for Akin Gump’s City arm after a flat 2019 when turnover grew only 1%. They reflect the office’s wheelhouse of restructuring following the 2014 acquisition of 28 partners fronted by star restructuring veteran James Roome from the ill-fated Bingham McCutchen.
In what has been a fast-paced start to 2021, a host of firms including Hogan Lovells, Shearman & Sterling, Clyde & Co, Goodwin, Greenberg Traurig and HFW have contributed to a largely international set of lateral partner hires this past week.
Starting in the UK, Allen & Overy has lost a distinguished solicitor-advocate in the form of Matthew Gearing QC, who leaves to join heavyweight set Essex Court Chambers. Taking silk in 2014, Gearing QC was mainly based in A&O’s Hong Kong office where he co-headed the firm’s global arbitration group.
Listed firm Knights may have posted a robust 45% rise in 2021 half-year revenues from £31.9m to £46.2m, but acknowledged that without its slew of acquisitions turnover dropped in real terms from the same period last year by £4.8m (15%).
The results came after a year in which Knights opened in Leeds through the £20.1m buyout of Shulmans, while also establishing a south east presence through the acquisition of ASB Law in a deal worth up to £8.5m. The £8m purchase of Nottingham-based Fraser Brown in February 2020 marked the firm’s tenth acquisition since its listing in June 2018.
The whimpering conclusion to the three-year saga that dragged City law into the middle of #MeToo could hardly have been more frustrating for everyone concerned.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said on Thursday (14 January) it had decided to stay proceedings against Allen & Overy employment veteran Mark Mansell (aka Solicitor Z) relating to a non-disclosure agreement drawn up for disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 1998. The grounds – Mansell’s ill health meant that continuing with a trial posed a significant risk to his life.
In an expansive start to the new year, UK firms Kennedys , TLT and Clyde & Co have established new frontiers at home and abroad.
Kennedys has opened its 42nd global office, and its 12th in the UK, with a Leeds launch via the acquisition of Langleys’ insurance team. The new office will be headed up by David Thompson, formerly managing partner and head of insurance at Langleys. He will be joined by three other partners and 32 team heads, lawyers and staff from the insurance group.
Firms have doubled down on their recruitment efforts in the new year as the likes of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), K&L Gates, Mishcon de Reya, Morrison & Foerster and Keystone Law all made hires.
Shakespeare Martineau, Burges Salmon, Lewis Silkin, McDermott Will & Emery, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Squire Patton Boggs were also active in the recruitment market in the past week.
Change is afoot at City leader Macfarlanes as Luke Powell has been lined up to succeed Julian Howard as managing partner, while the firm has appointed its first chief operating officer. At the same time, it was announced the much-admired former senior partner Charles Martin will retire from the partnership in April.
Sebastian Prichard Jones, Macfarlanes’ senior partner, announced the moves this morning (12 January).
Innovative, Covid-driven transactions have continued to emerge in recent months, with the first working week of 2021 proving no exception. As many embark on ‘Veganuary’ after the meaty excesses of the holiday season, a timely deal has been the acquisition by LIVEKINDLY Collective, a collection of plant-based food companies, of No Meat, Iceland Foods’ vegan meat alternative company.
Also topical, given the increasing challenges to mental health imposed by the pandemic, is a deal that sees Acadia Healthcare Company sell its UK business – which operates as The Priory Group – to Waterland Private Equity for £1.08bn.
Showing no sign of pandemic-induced slowdown, US-bred dispute resolution specialist Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hiked London revenues by 27% to reach £127.4m.
There was further cause for cheer for the firm as profits shot up 34% to around £91m, putting the office’s profit margin at an impressive 71%.
In March last year – as the Covid-19 crisis gathered pace – I wrote in Legal Business that if you’re a leader when an emergency happens, you need to act like one. I added that, as the leader, you are also communicator-in-chief.
Talking to leaders over the last few months, it’s striking how acting like a leader has meant adapting their style as this crisis has rolled on. A more approachable, informal and open approach that connects more personally with their people has become key.