DWF looks to acquire a stricken Cobbetts in pre-pack deal

DWF is set to acquire Cobbetts in a pre-pack deal, after the struggling Manchester-based firm called in administrators KPMG last month.

The top 40 UK firm announced its intentions to acquire Cobbetts almost a year after merger attempts by the two firms failed. At the time, a joint statement said talks had finished because of ‘continuing uncertain market conditions’.

Under the agreement, DWF will take on 419 staff, including partners, from the fallen firm in Leeds, Manchester, London and Birmingham. The DWF deal does not include Cobbetts’ debt recovery team, Incasso, while Walker Morris has taken the firm’s 24-strong financial litigation team.
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Insolvency teams line up on high-profile failures

With HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster all entering into administration in the first few weeks of 2013, leading City firms have scored significant instructions.

Linklaters is involved in the administration of HMV, with restructuring and insolvency partners Richard Hodgson and Richard Bussell taking the lead. Linklaters had also been advising the lenders, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, to HMV Group since the beginning of 2011 and banking partner Chris Howard continues to advise the lenders. Continue reading “Insolvency teams line up on high-profile failures”

Latest US profits show positive early signs

The initial numbers to emerge from the US reporting season indicate a relatively resilient performance in 2012 for the world’s largest legal market.

A series of firms have so far posted headline financial results, including Latham & Watkins, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and White & Case, with the majority achieving growth in profits and fee income.

Latham reported growth of 3.4% with the top five US firm’s revenue hitting $2.23bn, up from $2.15bn for the 2011 year. PEP also grew 7.4% to $2.44m and the firm reported an increase of 2.4% in revenue per lawyer, which hit $1.1m in 2012.

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Freshfields to provide scholarships for aspiring black lawyers

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is launching a scholarship with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT) to help students from black and ethnic minorities gain access to the profession.

The scholarship will allow four successful male candidates committed to pursuing a career in the legal profession to receive a £3,500 annual contribution towards living expenses, as well as training, mentoring, work experience at Freshfields and a guaranteed interview for a training contract.

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Dundas departures reflect pressure on Scots firms

Dundas & Wilson has confirmed the departure of three more partners from the firm’s London arm. Corporate partners Julian Mathews and Simon Sale, along with banking and finance partner Michael Wrigley, have decided to leave the Scots leader, which has faced a difficult few years by any yardstick.

These moves, which were confirmed in February, compound an unsettled time for the firm’s London office. The City practice last year saw Martin Thomas, one of its top litigators, leave for Wragge & Co, along with banking partner John Pike, who quit for Osborne Clarke. More recent senior departures include TMT partner Paul Graham, who left for Field Fisher Waterhouse, while real estate partner Nick Padget left for Osborne Clarke. The latest departures have raised familiar questions about the firm’s London ambitions.

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Leverage starts to resurface in dormant market

Liberty Global’s $23.3bn acquisition of Virgin Media and Dell’s proposed $24.4bn leveraged buyout have deal finance advisers asking whether this is a signal that leveraged buyout deals are making a comeback.

The pair of mega deals were announced last month within weeks of each other and have handed roles to a raft of advisers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Virgin Media turned to New York firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson for M&A advice, with senior counsel Arthur Fleischer Jr on the US corporate side and London corporate partner Richard May on the UK aspects.
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Pinsents launches flexi-lawyer service for clients

Pinsent Masons is set to launch a contract lawyer service that will provide clients with access to lawyers on a temporary basis as and when they are needed.

‘Vario’ will offer in-house teams a group of freelance lawyers with a variety of experience to cover anything from fixed-term projects to maternity leave. The move follows clients’ increased demand for flexible lawyers and addresses the core issues of resource, cost and skills that often affect the in-house legal teams.

Pinsents partner Alison Bond, who heads Vario, said: ‘Clients are increasingly asking for access to flexible resources. However, we wanted to take the idea a step further and launch the next generation of this type of service. Continue reading “Pinsents launches flexi-lawyer service for clients”

FFW and Travers Smith shake up senior roles

City firms Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) and Travers Smith have overhauled senior management, with each seeing new appointments to the top roles.

Head of technology and outsourcing Michael Chissick has been named FFW’s new managing partner, replacing Matthew Lohn, who will take up the re-introduced role of senior partner.

Chissick said: ‘I am leading the firm through a transformation. We want to move away from the negative market perception and create a firm culture that is modern and forward thinking.’

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HSF sees more City departures but secures German launch

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has been hit by a string of key departures from its lucrative disputes practice.

Simon Bushell, who co-chaired the corporate fraud and asset tracing group at HSF, is set to join Latham & Watkins’ City office imminently. His departure marks the fourth high-profile litigation exit since the start of the year after Martyn Hopper, who was head of the firm’s successful financial services regulation practice, and Nikunj Kiri both left for Linklaters in January.

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Litigation market polarised as Jackson reforms take effect

With the Jackson reforms recently instigated, the market is divided about how the introduction of damages-based agreements (DBAs) will impact the litigation market.

Under the reforms, which came into effect on 1 April, litigators will be allowed to accept cases under DBAs for the first time. However, litigators say the lack of clarity about how the new rules work will inhibit their use.

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