Do law firms take partnership for granted? They really shouldn’t as the model has served them so well. Just consider the case. Partnership aligns management and ownership. This has helped large law firms to avoid the patchy governance and rewards-for-mediocrity seen at public companies over the last 20 years and drives partners to a pure form of performance pay. It is inherently long-term and as such has a strong record in promoting independence and ethical standards. And given that law isn’t a capital-intensive trade – at least once you cross the Rubicon of international expansion – partnership is workable (if not ideal) from a financing point of view.
Securing a major deal and having one of your partners take a senior role with the same client is a nice trick to pull off but Allen & Overy (A&O) appears to have managed that this week after securing a lead role on the Co-op’s rescue plan and ‘donating’ a veteran partner to the lender’s management team.
Allen & Overy (A&O) has hired Visa Europe’s general counsel (GC) and executive vice president and company secretary Vanessa Turner as a partner in its global antitrust practice.
Turner will be based in the Magic Circle’s Brussels office, advising European and international clients dealing with EU and other regulators on merger clearance, cartels and other antitrust and competition matters.
West End boutique Forsters has appointed Fiona Smith to take over as head of the private client department as it achieves a run of 164% revenue increase over five years.
Smith, who succeeds current head David Robinson at the Mayfair firm, specialises in offshore tax planning, wills, trusts and probate law. She acts as adviser to many of the firm’s longstanding clients, including media figures, entrepreneurs, charities, landed estates and directors or owners of listed UK companies.
Her appointment comes just weeks after the LB100 firm posted a 16% revenue increase, with fee income coming in ahead of budget at £32.5m, up from £28m in 2011-12.
As court staff go on strike this afternoon (17 June) in protest at the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) plans to cut £220m off the annual criminal legal aid budget, it is with the support of many City lawyers.
The unusual move comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last week claimed the MoJ’s plans could breach human rights laws and as lawyers warn that cuts made to civil legal aid earlier this year are already leading to a significant increase in pro bono requests and in areas outside of their expertise.
Osborne Clarke has ended a year of international expansion with 2012-13 revenues up by 14% to £112m as it beds down new offices in Italy and Spain.
The revenue growth masks a couple of slow periods for the firm’s transactional business in what managing partner Simon Beswick described as a ‘lumpy market’. Discounting revenues from the top 40 UK firm’s new offices, its year-on-year turnover figure fell by 1% from £98m in 2011-12 to £97m in 2012-13.
The 410-lawyer firm posted a dip in net profits during the same financial period, down 5% from £37m to £35m.
Rated Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) City tax disputes lawyer Rupert Shiers is set to join Hogan Lovells to head its direct tax disputes practice.
Shiers will start in his new role on Monday (24 June), working alongside indirect tax disputes head Michael Conlon QC. He focuses on disputes with HM Revenue & Customs and has led appeals to the First-tier tribunal, Upper Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, as well as references to the European Court of Justice. His clients have included Cadbury Schweppes and BMW Holding.
SJ Berwin has become the latest leading UK law firm to release its 2012-13 financial results, with its unaudited accounts revealing an increase in revenue of 2% to £184.6m, exceeding last year’s growth figure of 1.1% to £180.1m.
Profit figures have yet to finalised but early indications suggest that net profit has risen slightly at the top 25 UK firm, although profits per equity (PEP) partner have contracted by up to 10% in light of expansion to the partnership over the past year, falling from £635,000 to around £570,000.
Top 20 UK law firm Pinsent Masons has seen its year-on-year turnover increase by 40% from £221m to £309m thanks to its merger with McGrigors in June last year.
The firms, which would have had a combined turnover last year of around £294m, have in real terms seen a growth in revenue of 5%.
The increase comes after a year of international expansion during which Pinsents opened new offices in Munich, Paris and Istanbul, for the first time giving it more offices overseas than in the UK.