Legal Business

‘A springboard for greater success’: Johnston elected as next Addleshaw managing partner

Addleshaw Goddard has announced that Andrew Johnston has been successful in securing the position of the firm’s managing partner through an uncontested election, serving a four-year term to start on 1 May 2024.

Having joined the firm in 2013 to oversee the firm’s M&A practice in the Middle East, Johnston (pictured) previously worked at Clifford Chance. He became a board member in 2014 and assumed the role of head of Middle East and Asia in 2019, during which time he led the firm’s Middle Eastern business to record financial performances.

The financial year concluding in April 2023 alone witnessed the most rapid expansion in the Middle East in the firm’s history, with a 43% increase in income recorded in its fastest-growing region. Earlier this year, the firm unveiled intentions to establish a new office in Riyadh, marking its fourth office in the region, and is ambitiously aiming for a 60% revenue increase in the Middle East over the upcoming five years.

Johnston’s election marks a historic moment for the firm, the first time a managing partner has been elected from outside the UK. He will take over from John Joyce, who held the position of managing partner from 2014, having been re-elected in 2017 and 2021. Joyce’s decision to step down earlier this year, a year ahead of schedule, accelerated the process to select his successor.

Although Johnston possesses impressive credentials, he faces the challenge of stepping into sizable shoes, as Joyce leaves behind a legacy marked by substantial financial growth, two successful mergers in Scotland, as well as significant European expansion in Germany, France and Luxembourg.

During the time of Joyce’s leadership, the firm has also experienced substantial growth in partner numbers, increasing from 178 to 386. Over the past nine years, the financial robustness of the business has seen remarkable improvement, with its income surging from £166m in FY13/14 to £443m, and profits for the same period risen by over 200%. The firm’s balance sheet reflects this prosperity, boasting an unprecedented closing cash position of £146m at the end of FY22/23, a stark contrast from the deficit of £16m in FY14/15.

In a statement, Johnston outlined his main objectives: ‘My ambition is for AG to double in size by 2030. I am looking forward to the firm capitalising on the strong platform created under John’s leadership and using it as a springboard for greater success. We will continue to invest where clients need us the most and I will be giving as much focus as I can to ensuring that we flourish as a thriving global business, dominant across the UK, with greater influence in the City, and even more famous for high-quality imaginative, impactful advice that delivers real competitive advantage.’


Legal Business

The Ireland debate: Don’t fear the robots

Nathalie Tidman, Legal Business: Welcome everyone. We have a fantastic panel of extremely talented and insightful people here this evening.

As a starter for ten, what do you see as the real opportunities and benefits for in-house lawyers using generative AI in your day-to-day dealings?

Legal Business

Addleshaw stands out from subdued market with 18% revenue and profit rise

Addleshaw Goddard has repeated last year’s outstanding performance in another set of promising financial results today (3 August), reporting a 18% increase in revenue growth from £377m to £443m, matched by an 18% rise in total profit from £155m to £184m.

PEP is estimated to be £909,000 by Legal Business, an increase of 5%.

The firm lists the Middle East as its fastest growing region, with a striking 43% spike in income growth in FY22/23, as well as UK income increasing by 14%. The firm also attributes 20% of its overall income growth to its practices outside the UK and the Middle East.

Furthermore, Addleshaw’s closing cash position has gone up by £10m since last year to £146m.

In terms of practice areas, the financial results show that Addleshaw’s financial services outfit is the firm’s highest-performing sector, contributing 30% of the firm’s overall income.

The firm’s international partner headcount has grown by 11% to 356 individuals, equating to an addition of 52 new partners, 32 of which were lateral hires and 20 of which were internally promoted.

Some of the firm’s standout mandates from the last fiscal year include advising: ASDA on its £2.3bn buyout of EG Group’s UK and Ireland businesses; BP Oman on a $1bn green hydrogen and ammonia project; COFCO international on its $1.6bn sustainability loan; and DP world on its $2.4bn investment in three UAE assets.

Managing partner John Joyce (pictured)  stated: ‘We continue to broaden our capabilities to support clients wherever they might need us. The scale of our investments demonstrates our ambition to continue increasing the value we can offer to our clients, whilst creating new opportunities for everyone who works at AG.’

He added: ‘In the last two years we have added materially to our partner group with nearly 100 appointments. We are more global than ever too, now with seven offices in Europe and with Riyadh, our fourth office in the Middle East is expected to open shortly.’

Legal Business

The Ireland debate: Top GCs gather in Dublin to thrash out the strategic role of in-house counsel

Nathalie Tidman, Legal Business: What sector-specific challenges are you facing when it comes to strategic decision-making in-house?

Sally Anne Sherry (pictured), Bartra Group: There are a couple of challenges that are specific to real estate, and those are often related to legislative changes that happen quite quickly. For example, when co-living was introduced in Ireland and then effectively banned again with little warning. In the last few years, we have also been dealing with difficulties with the planning system and judicial reviews. A lot of the press coverage of it has gone quiet, but we are still stuck in judicial review cases where we are trying to deliver units and we cannot get out of the court system.

Legal Business

‘A growing, globally active business’: Addleshaw’s European push spurs 18% revenue growth

Addleshaw Goddard has credited its increased European footprint for the promising financial results released today (3 August), which saw revenue rise by 18% to £377m, and an increase in profit by 16% to £155m.

Regional revenue performance is also testament to the firm’s improvement in Europe. Though UK turnover was up a solid 15%, it paled in comparison with that generated overseas, which jumped a striking 30%.

Much of this growth is due to Addleshaw expanding European profile. In the last 12 months, the firm has opened offices in Dublin, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Munich, adding to the Paris and Hamburg bases which were established in the last couple of years.

The results see the firm outstrip last years’ performance, when it saw a 12% rise in revenue.  The firm’s six core sectors all recorded growth. The finance & projects, corporate and commercial, and real estate practices were standouts, each achieving double-digit percentage revenue increases. Income from recruitment portal AG Integrate also spiked by 47%.

Headcount also increased. The overall lawyer number rose by 15% to 2,348, while 40 new partners were added across key practices globally. As part of the expansion in Ireland, there were 25 new partners.

Responding to the figures, managing partner John Joyce (pictured) said: ‘Our goal through the year was to continue investing in further growth and bringing to clients the advantages of a growing globally active business. It has been another challenging and changeable year and so to have materially grown both UK and global turnover is very satisfying. I am hugely proud of what our team has achieved across many different fronts to better support and service clients, to offer people a great place to work and to deliver our strongest performance to date.

‘The firm’s 18% revenue growth reflects two main underlying trends. Firstly, the year was a very busy one for our transactional teams, but generally across the firm we were busier than ever working across a greater number of offices on higher-value work. Activity levels surpassed the prior year in every month of the year in many teams and geographies, which is particularly impressive given the 20% growth we saw in each of the final six months of the prior year. Secondly, we made further material people investments, most notably responding to client demand for a meaningful presence in Ireland and Luxembourg as well as growing Paris and Germany.  Already all of our European offices are working regularly together to offer a much wider experience for clients.’

Legal Business

Financials 2020/21: Addleshaws to triple bonus provision following standout year

Addleshaw Goddard has kept pace with an emerging trend over the past month, posting robust financial results for 2020/21 following a pandemic-hit year previously.

Revenue this time around is up 12% to £321m from £288m in 2019/2020. The firm said this constitutes an eighth year of successive income growth, ‘delivered notwithstanding the challenges of the year’. Following further planned investments in new offices, infrastructure and people, the closing cash position of £108m is ‘a record for AG, underpinning the firm’s balance sheet strength’.

Profit has also seen impressive growth, after a minor fall last year. Total distributable profit reached £136m, equal to a margin of 42%, while profit per equity partner hit £849,000 – a striking 23% leap from the previous year, where PEP fell 5% to £690,000.

In addition, the total bonus provision for AG this year will be ‘three times larger than the prior year, which itself had been a record, to reflect the positive outcome for the year’.

Managing partner John Joyce (pictured), who began a third successive four-year term in May, said: ‘We are incredibly proud of the people we have at AG. Their combined team effort and our great clients have seen us deliver strong growth, higher profitability and further balance sheet strength in challenging times.  In the last year we have kept many investments on track and our teams have overcome tremendous disruption to support our efforts including the successful opening of our France office a year after launching in Germany and I can’t thank them enough.  We will continue to try to be as flexible and supportive as we can be in order to help people succeed and are investing heavily in bonuses this year as well in recognition of people’s efforts.

He added: ‘Looking ahead our intention is to build on the growth we have seen and the investments we have been making in order to continue delivering to clients a global business with ever more imaginative and impactful solutions.’

In terms of practice area performance, the firm reported that its litigation practice has grown around 20% year on year since 2017; finance & projects practice closed  11% up on the prior year; while corporate & commercial and real estate saw 8% and 7% growth respectively. Approximately 80% of the firm’s income is generated through its six core sectors: energy & utilities, financial services, healthcare, retail and consumer, real estate and transport. Highlights include advising Asda on matters relating to its sale by Walmart to a consortium of the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, and representing the Department of Transport in its successful defence against the challenge by multiple bidder consortia over their failure to secure multi-billion-pound rail franchises.

In unveling the results, the firm said that it had added 36 new partners in the past year – 23 laterally hired and 13 internally promoted – across key practice areas including capital markets, civil fraud, corporate governance, infrastructure, projects and energy and international arbitration.

Legal Business

‘Overwhelming support’: More of the same at Addleshaws as Joyce secures third term

Addleshaw Goddard managing partner John Joyce has reaffirmed his position at the helm of the firm following an uncontested leadership election, the firm announced today (2 November).

The deadlines for nominations closed on 30 October and Joyce has now been elected for a four-year term beginning on 1 May 2021. Joyce was first elected to the position in 2014 after a contested election against real estate head Adrian Collins.

Commenting on his election, Joyce said: ‘It has been a real privilege to lead the firm for the last six and a half years and to have helped to make such strong progress in developing and improving our business across numerous fronts, both in the UK and internationally. I am really pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue to lead the firm through what will undoubtedly prove to be a period of ongoing uncertainty but the strong business that we have created and the way in which we have pulled together during the pandemic gives me real optimism for the future.’

Joyce also mentioned the ongoing uncertainty in August when the firm announced its financial results. A steely performance saw turnover increase 4% while partner profits took a minor hit, declining 5% to £690,000. Over 80% of revenue was generated through energy and utilities, financial services, health, real estate, retail and consumer, and transport.

Moreover, Addleshaws has an impressive track record under Joyce’s leadership. The firm has increased global partner headcount by 50% and lawyer/business services capacity by 40%, in addition to recording six years of consecutive growth with revenues rising from £171m to £288m, an increase of 68%.

Addleshaws senior partner, Charles Penney, noted: ‘John is a highly respected leader dedicated to making our business attractive to the best clients and to the best people and he has the overwhelming support of our partners from all our offices across the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to lead our firm over the next four years.’

For more on Addleshaw Goddard and its leadership, see our interview with John Joyce earlier this year: ‘The Addleshaws Interview: The rebound guy’

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Real Estate Team of the Year

After much back-and-forth between the judges in a keenly contested category, we are now delighted to reveal the winner of Real Estate Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

For this award, judges looked for a standout example of real estate-related work, including financing, development or construction, or cases and transactions in planning, environment and regeneration.




Sponsored by

Edwards Gibson

Winners – Addleshaw Goddard/Linklaters/Norton Rose Fulbright

These three firms collaborated to advise the joint venture between Permodalan Nasional Berhad and the Employees Provident Fund on its £1.58bn acquisition of the commercial assets within Phase 2 of the Battersea redevelopment project.

Once redeveloped, the iconic art deco power station building will house Apple’s new European HQ and a private members’ club, a 2,000 capacity events venue and over 250 residential homes along with luxury retail, food and beverage and leisure accommodation.

The deal focuses on one of London’s largest, most hotly-anticipated regeneration sites. Over the years, the site has been subject to a number of unsuccessful redevelopment attempts due to the significant challenges posed by the site – so much so that it has been described as being the ‘Everest of real estate’ on the basis that it is considered to be one of the toughest redevelopment projects in the world, with a number of developers having tried and failed to conquer it.

The transaction is anticipated to comprise one of the UK’s largest-ever single-asset real estate transactions. Linklaters, led by Patrick Plant, advised the joint venture purchaser; the seller (the owners of Battersea Power Station Development Company) was advised by an Addleshaw Goddard team headed by Leona Ahmed; with Norton Rose Fulbright (Dan Wagerfield and Dan Kennedy) acting for the seller on the financing aspects.

No individual firm stood out as contributing to the overall success of this deal: there were a number of different and complex parallel workstreams, which demanded fluid co-ordination between all three firms.

This truly collaborative process meant this entry stood apart. Christopher Gilchrist Fisher, senior director of CBRE Global Investors, said: ‘Without the co-operation and shared objectives of all involved, this transaction would not have happened. Deals of this level of complexity involve managing the multi-layered requirements of various stakeholders. They demand a new type of lawyer – one who works with their respective clients for the future success of the project, above individual requirements, and in the face of short-term gains.’

Highly commended – CMS

Acting for longstanding client Vita on its landmark £600m portfolio sale of Vita Student assets to DWS’s real estate funds. The portfolio comprises a total of 3,198 beds in Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle.

CMS fielded a multi-disciplinary team, led by partners Gareth Saynor and Peter Winnard, comprising over 35 advisers in Sheffield, Manchester, London and Edinburgh, to deliver this deal for Vita. This was a complex transaction requiring significant strategic advice at every stage and was of huge significance for the client, allowing it to scale up its growth and bring more innovative brands to market while continuing to deliver high-quality student accommodation. CMS played a pivotal role in helping the client to achieve its goals.

Other nominations

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Advising Grange Hotels on the sale of part of the reorganised group to Queensgate Investments for some £1bn, a portfolio comprising four upscale hotels offering around 930,000 sq ft of real estate.

Davitt Jones Bould

Advising The Royal Parks on a novel contract for events held at London’s major parks. With government funding diminishing, TRP was faced with raising over £30m annually and events are seen as key to its long-term financial viability.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Continuing work on key client Blackstone’s real estate acquisitions and financings, including a joint venture with Telereal Trillium to acquire Network Rail’s £1.46bn commercial real estate portfolio, as well as on its acquisition of Dream Global REIT’s assets.

Womble Bond Dickinson

Advising South Tees Development Corporation on the acquisition and regeneration of TATA Steel’s former steel works on Teesside; this was the first transaction involving a mayoral development corporation outside of London.

Legal Business

‘Only certainty is even more uncertainty’: Addleshaws shows endurance as firm steels itself for year ahead 

Addleshaw Goddard adhered to an increasingly familiar trend over the last financial year, the firm’s latest figures show, with revenues proving resilient in the last months of 2019/20 while partner profits took a minor dent.

Turnover was up 4% to £288m from £275m the previous financial year, when the firm exceeded all expectations as revenue soared 14%. However, profit per equity partner (PEP) endured a modest decline, falling 5% to £690,000 from £727,000 in 2018/19, when the figure jumped by 12%. Over 80% of revenue was generated through energy and utilities, financial services, health, real estate, retail and consumer, and transport.  

Commenting on the figures, managing partner John Joyce (pictured) said: ‘Our business responded well to a very unpredictable period for our clients with the ongoing Brexit saga, then an election and in the second half of the year the impact of coronavirus, first in Asia and then more widely. After a strong first half, we adapted quickly to the pandemic and to close out the year in-line with plan is testament to the quality and diversification of the firm’s client base and the resilience of our people and the infrastructure built in recent years.’

The consensus is that those free of debt and with meaningful cash reserves are likely to be safest in 2020/21. Despite the fall in PEP, the firm managed to improve its liquidity with net cash closing at £84m in 2019/20, a significant increase on the firm’s £59m balance sheet in 2018/19. Distributable profit, meanwhile, was also up after a small 1% increase to £102m.

Addleshaws also grew its partner ranks over the year, with 24 new partners recruited across construction, energy and infrastructure, global investigations, funds finance, equity capital markets and restructuring. The firm also opened its first office in Germany in June 2019.

Joyce added: ‘The only certainty this year is that it will be even more uncertain than the last but we have made a solid start and some teams remain very busy whilst others have seen their markets badly impacted and arguably have a more negative outlook. We very much retain an appetite to grow and retaining profit from last year, as we did the prior year, alongside the overall strength of our balance sheet leaves us well placed to weather uncertainty and continue to invest and recruit where the right opportunity presents itself.’

For more on Addleshaw Goddard, see our interview with John Joyce earlier this year: ‘The Addleshaws Interview: The rebound guy’

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Technology projects – Plan for success (and if things go wrong)

Addleshaw Goddard looks at the impact of technology on future planning

Involving a disputes lawyer in your business shouldn’t start when you get into a dispute

If you are in business, you are a technology business – this is the reality of the modern marketplace. From the smallest pop-up shop to FTSE 100 entities, technology is at the core. Digitalisation and automation are now woven through every aspect of business, whether front-end customer engagement, supply chains, outsourcing, back-end administration or compliance and audit functions. And this trend will continue; recent data shows many businesses are planning to spend between 20% and 50% of their investment capital on digital projects.

With that opportunity comes risk: increasingly, the prospects and viability of a business are tied to its tech.

Your business needs to be alive not just to the benefits that new technologies will bring to your operations, but also to the challenges inherent when introducing it and, once implemented, your increasing reliance on it. As your business becomes ever-more dependent on technology (with the rise of 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud storage, big data and blockchain), so the scale of the risk to your business increases if that technology fails. Several companies have made unwanted headlines over high-profile tech disasters.

Planning for change

Most technology projects are intended as a catalyst for change within a business – whether to vital logistics and administration functions, the customer journey, or the business as a whole. Robust planning processes are essential from the beginning of such projects. All your stakeholders must buy in, so as to realise the changes you are seeking. And even with that planning and commitment in place, most IT implementation projects will often encounter time, money, resource and/or scope issues during their implementation.

Your business needs a clear strategy (commercial, technical and legal) to steer a course to success. And success will demand not just leadership and discipline from the senior management, but also a robust and holistic contract and implementation plan – covering everything from scoping, tendering, contact negotiation and signing, through to the ‘go-live’ and continued operation/upgrades and ultimately exit.

You need to think carefully about what you want to achieve with this new tech and how and when you want to achieve it. Are these deliverables understood by your providers and clearly set out in your contract? Are there sufficient incentives in your contract for the provider to deliver against the requirements and milestones? Will your operations, including your data, be sufficiently protected throughout this period of change?

Getting the right advice at the start could save a series of headaches (or worse) later on.

Planning for challenges

Inevitably, as with all projects, tech initiatives will see varying degrees of success. So you need to be prepared if, or more likely when, your project faces challenges. What levers do you have (contractual or otherwise) to get the project back on track?

And when a dispute materialises, the contract will be tested. Does it place escalation obligations on the parties that are constructive or distracting? Does it encourage co-operation or brinksmanship? How easy is it to withhold payment or services – or even terminate? What limitation and/or exclusion provisions apply? What about exit management? Having a clear strategy that can cater for both success and failure will be key in these circumstances.
Ultimately, you may need to bring or defend a claim. While this tends not to be a GC/board’s preferred option, the prospect of proceedings can sometimes be used strategically to achieve a final resolution, frequently without the need to go to trial.

Importantly, time is often a more critical factor in tech disputes than in many other forms of dispute. Technology evolves at a fast pace. Accordingly, in a dispute it can be vital for issues to be resolved before the existing tech on which the business presently depends becomes obsolete, or the market moves on and your investment (or even your whole operation) is sunk. Where timing is a factor, many businesses will want to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before legal proceedings are commenced. This can include the new contractual adjudication scheme launched by the Society for Computers and Law, a three-month procedure that aims at swift settlement of tech disputes.

Even where a tech project has been implemented successfully, issues may arise later on. Such an issue could occur due to a security breach (eg, hacking incident) or human error (eg, accidental data disclosure). It is increasingly important for businesses to be as well drilled for tech incidents, such as a cyber-attack, as they are for a fire. Prompt action will be needed to secure your tech infrastructure, reassure your customers, regulators, workforce and investors, keep your supply chain intact, restore business critical operations, manage the media fallout and seek redress from the culprits. The extent to which businesses (even ‘big business’) are ready for this type of potentially business-critical risk varies greatly.

Planning for the future

The UK is the third-largest market for AI investment behind the US and China. A report by Microsoft last year showed 56% of businesses are adopting AI, and suggested every company may incorporate it in some form in the next five years. So, before too long, what we currently think of as ‘tech risk’ will just become ‘risk’. An office without email is unthinkable now, despite the fact that many senior executives began their careers in offices without much more than a single computer. It is likely the same will become true of AI, blockchain and many other ‘new technologies’.

Planning for success

As a business, you have a careful balancing act to manage. You will have to continue to evolve your IT systems to remain relevant and ahead of competitors, but you must also do what you can to ensure the new technology is implemented and operated in a way that is as low-risk as possible.

The success of your IT will increasingly go hand in hand with the fortunes of the business itself. Having tech issues resolved quickly and efficiently (and, yes, perhaps quietly), across all your operations and jurisdictions, will be essential.

Engaging the right advisers who can give the right guidance at the right time, taking a holistic view of the business (and not just tech) issues, with full-service capability to act across sectors and borders, and who are themselves tech competent and enabled, can save valuable resource, time and money – and potentially the business itself. And, while you can’t always plan for the unforeseen, having a strategy to deal with such risks will be invaluable in the event of unwanted interference in your business.


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