Legal Business

Clients back New Law model as LOD posts post-merger revenue surge

Clients back New Law model as LOD posts post-merger revenue surge

Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s (BLP) freelance spin-off Lawyers on Demand(LOD) has posted 15% turnover growth in its first full-year results since it merged with Australia’s AdventBalance in March 2016, in what was the largest New Law merger to date.

As the global flexible lawyering business saw its turnover grow to £35m for 2016/17, LOD co-founder and managing director Simon Harper (pictured) said the satisfying results – which came ahead of LOD’s tenth anniversary last month – were down to ‘new service lines’.

‘The success is down to our secondment business and On Call model and managed teams. We’re finding that clients are using us in areas where they might previously have assumed that they needed a traditional law firm.’

According to its latest filings with Companies House, LOD’s UK business also recorded an 18% upsurge in turnover for the 2015/16 financial year, as revenues rose from £12.3m to £14.6m, accounting for nearly half of the year’s revenue.

However, despite rising turnover, LOD’s UK operating profit tumbled from £987,000 to £200,000 over the year, with the accounts stating this was due to ‘one-off exceptional items’. £255,000 was spent on new technology during 2016.

Directors at the company also saw their salaries increase, with the highest-paid director pocketing £495,000 over 2015/16, a 46% jump from the previous figure of £269,000.

Founded in 2007 with 10 lawyers as one of BLP’s separate businesses, LOD had doubled its turnover by 2010. In 2012, LOD spun out from BLP to become an independent entity.

AdventBalance was formed from a merger between Sydney’s Advent Lawyers and Perth’s Balance Legal. The Advent Balance merger secured LOD a presence in Singapore and Hong Kong and the business now counts over 600 lawyers in eight offices: London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney.

As reported by Legal Business last month, LOD is due to launch in the Middle East with a new Dubai office this autumn. The launch will be overseen by Brett Menadue, new managing director for the Middle East.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

China buys: Mayer Brown and BLP land key roles on £1.3bn Walkie Talkie sale in record property deal

China buys: Mayer Brown and BLP land key roles on £1.3bn Walkie Talkie sale in record property deal

Mayer BrownBerwin Leighton Paisner(BLP) and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang all advised on the £1.3bn purchase by Hong Kong investors LKK Health Products of London landmark skyscraper, 20 Fenchurch Street, or the ‘Walkie Talkie’.

In the UK’s largest property deal to date, Mayer Brown UK real estate head Chris Harvey told Legal Business that the transaction demonstrates further appetite from foreign investors including new entrants to the London market.

‘Asian investors have been very active over the last five years and there is clearly no lack of appetite. This is likely to continue as Asian investors see London still as being a safe haven and comparatively good value compared to their home markets, especially with the depreciation of the pound,’ he added.

LKK, a member of Hong Kong-based food company Lee Kum Kee Group was advised by a Mayer Brown team. UK real estate head Chris Harvey and global head of real estate Jeremy Clay led, with real estate partners Andrew Hepner, Caroline Humble, Anita Jones and Pat Jones, antitrust partner David Harrison and construction partner Jonathan Olson-Welsh.

Corporate and securities partners Jeremy Kenley, Connor Cahalane and Tim Nosworthy, employment and benefits partner Nick Robertson and tax partner Sandy Bhogal all also worked on the deal.

BLP advised co-seller The Canary Wharf Group. BLP’s investment management head, Antony Grossman and chairman Robert MacGregor led its team.

CMS acted for co-seller real estate investment trust Landsec, previously Land Securities, with real estate partners Victoria Henry and Barry Morris and tax partner Nick Burt leading.

The sale follows that of the ‘Cheesegrater’ building for £1.15bn earlier this year to Chinese-owned CC Land, in which BLP and Mayer Brown, alongside Herbert Smith Freehills, advised on one of the largest Chinese purchases of UK real estate.

Georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Lawyers On Demand set to break into the Middle East with Dubai launch

Lawyers On Demand set to break into the Middle East with Dubai launch

Lawyers On Demand (LOD), Berwin Leighton Paisner’s(BLP) freelance lawyers spin-off, is due to launch in the Middle East with a new Dubai office, breaking into an increasingly competitive legal market.

It is understood that the opening is on track for early autumn.

The launch will be overseen by Brett Menadue, new managing director for the Middle East operation, hired by LOD in May in anticipation of the launch.

Already based in Dubai, Menadue was formerly chief legal officer at Mara Global Technology and a previous director of legal and compliance at Nokia in Dubai.

Foreign investors in Dubai need a local sponsor in order to open a business outside of the free zones. BLP’s own office is based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). However, regulatory, commercial and legal requirements for law firms to establish in the area differ from those for other types of businesses.

The freelance law service is based on three models: lawyers working on-site with clients under a secondment-style service, lawyers ‘on call’ in flexible secondments as and when required, and project-based ‘managed solutions’ – which include LOD teams assigned to specific projects.

The opening of LOD’s first Middle East office would mark significant growth by the consultant lawyer business over its first decade.

Founded in 2007 with 10 lawyers as one of BLP’s separate business, LOD’s UK turnover doubled in 2010. In 2012, LOD spun out from BLP to become an independent entity.

It now counts over 600 lawyers in eight offices: London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney.

In the years since it became financially independent in 2012, LOD has grown, recording an 18% upsurge in turnover for the 2015/16 financial year, when revenues rose from £12.3m to £14.6m.

In 2016, the new law pioneer business also merged with Australia-based AdventBalance, a similar flexible lawyering service, with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, which secured LOD a presence in Asia. AdventBalance was formed from a merger between Sydney’s Advent Lawyers and Perth’s Balance Legal. John Knox, former A&O head of business development founded Advent Lawyers.

Multinationals including Mastercard, Visa, AstraZeneca, DHL, FedEx and Microsoft now run their Africa businesses from Dubai. The DIFC has also cemented the emirate’s prominent position on the regional and global stage, and became home to 447 registered financial institutions in 2016.

Some law firms which have faced increasing difficulties in strictly conservative neighbouring Arab states, such as Abu Dhabi, have relocated to Dubai. Latham & Watkins, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Simmons & Simmons and Hogan Lovells are among firms which have consolidated their UAE presence in Dubai.

Recent US firms to set up in Dubai include Mayer Brown, with its new Dubai office in June 2016, and Shearman & Sterling, which has operated in Dubai since 2015.

Covington opened its Dubai office in June this year, with the addition of Chadbourne & Parke’s project finance team.

Winston & Strawn opened a Dubai arm in November 2015. Its Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman told Legal Business thatdespite having suffered significantly from the effects of the financial crisis and the subsequent plunge in oil prices, Dubai remains ‘a haven of regional political security and economic stability, and any new entrant to the legal market will be welcomed by the regulator authorities’.

‘The market is still quite traditional, and established practices and teams generally dominate. That does not mean there is no space for a new entrant, but it will be challenging as the market remains highly competitive,’ Steedman added.

This month, BLP posted mixed financial results for the year, but attributed its revenue growth to strong performances across the business. In particular, the firm highlighted LOD’s substantial growth over the year. The business’ most recent financial results reveal turnover rose 18% during 2015/16. BLP’s own revenues climbed 7%.

LOD’s Companies House filings in February this year indicated a £255,000 spend on new technology during 2016.

Georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Solid foundations but a struggle to build – Can BLP regain the confidence of its 2000s heyday?

Solid foundations but a struggle to build – Can BLP regain the confidence of its 2000s heyday?

Last year did not run smoothly for Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). Merger talks with Greenberg Traurig publicly fell apart amid some acrimony, while the City firm’s revenues dipped 2% in the 2015/16 year, making it one of the few Legal Business 100 players to see its top line slide.

Even before that, BLP had been through a factional election in 2015 which elevated employment specialist Lisa Mayhew as its new managing partner, while gripes over a disastrous run of partner hires on guaranteed pay deals several years previously have still not been forgotten.

Legal Business

Financials 2017: Mixed results for BLP as revenues up 7% while PEP falls

Financials 2017: Mixed results for BLP as revenues up 7% while PEP falls

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has posted mixed financial results for the year, with revenues up 7% while profit per equity partner (PEP) fell 8%.

As a result of the percentage rise, BLP’s revenue now stands at £272m although the firm’s PEP dropped from £683,000 to £630,000.

The firm added to its partner ranks considerably this year with partner hires and its highest ever promotion round, while at the same time investing in its alternative businesses.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew (pictured) said that the firm’s revenue was buoyed by a ‘discernible flight to quality’ in its real estate business.

Mayhew also pointed to the 26 new partners that have been brought in as a key factor in its growth. Nine of the new partners arrived as lateral hires, while 17 were promoted.

BLP attributed its positive revenue result to strong performances across the business, but in particular, the firm’s flexible lawyer resource offering Lawyers On Demand (LOD), grew substantially.

LOD co-founder Simon Harper told Legal Business that the company’s revenues have shot up by 15% to £35m since the merger with Australia’s AdventBalance in February 2016, and he insisted that LOD remains ‘a very important part of what BLP are doing.’ The business invested £255,000 on new technology in 2016, according to Companies House.

In terms of regional performance, BLP’s Manchester office has expanded to become the firm’s third largest by headcount. The firm plans to develop its entreprise business in that region.

BLP confirmed in a statement that its strategy is to build an international litigation and corporate risk practice, in addition to increasing the prominence of its real estate and corporate and finance practices. Global real estate capability remains at the top of its list.

A major piece of work for the firm’s real estate team came in March this year as Chinese Investment Group CC Land made a bid worth over £1bn for the City’s Leadenhall building, the ‘Cheesegrater’.

However, the firm has scaled back in other areas, losing nine intellectual property (IP) lawyers to TMT specialist Bristows in March of this year.

BLP’s IP head Simon Clark and head of the brand management and trademarks group Ian Grueselle, were the two partners in the team who made the move.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

Thames Water invites tenders for £48m provision with new regulatory and disputes panel

Thames Water invites tenders for £48m provision with new regulatory and disputes panel

Thames Water has opened to tender its legal services provision worth £48m in total, inviting pitches from up to 10 firms for a new panel providing regulatory, litigation and projects work – in addition to its external panel.

The utilities company’s current sole legal supplier, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), has been retained since 2010 under a managed legal services (MLS) arrangement.

Thames Water has invited up to five firms to tender for the MLS panel, worth £40m, which will continue to handle the bulk of the company’s normal work, a spokesperson told Legal Business. The MLS panel will cover a range of legal services including competition, data protection, disputes, employment, procurement and real estate.

The company is also opening to tender positions on a new £8m legal services panel, which will provide legal support on formal regulatory investigations, defending Thames Water from class action litigation, High Court appeals, mergers and acquisitions, major projects and other business activities, according to the company’s tender document dated 2 June.

This structural reform diversifies the company’s requirements in relation to its existing panel requirements.

Both panels offer initial five year contractual term with an optional three year extension, according to the tender document.

Thames Water embarked on a market engagement exercise at the end of last year, which the informed the way they decided to structure its external legal services provision, according to a spokesperson.

Thames Water is MLS’ main mandate.

The deadline for pitches is 6 July.

BLP did not respond to request for comment by press time.

Thames Water declined to comment.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Didn’t want someone average’: BLP taps Mayer Brown in Hong Kong real estate push

‘Didn’t want someone average’: BLP taps Mayer Brown in Hong Kong real estate push

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is due to launch a real estate and infrastructure practice in Hong Kong this autumn with the hire of Mayer Brown JSM’s rated head of Asia hospitality and leisure, Andrew MacGeoch.

MacGeoch will join BLP as head of Asia real estate, hospitality and leisure. He was made a partner at Mayer Brown in 1999 and represents developers, owners, institutional investors, governments and statutory corporations. He regularly advises owners of hotel brands, including Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Shangri-La, predominantly in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand.

This hire is a further boost for BLP in Asia. The firm opened in Hong Kong in 2011 with three partners, and today counts eight partners and 59 people in the practice. It moved out of its premises in Central to Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay last October to accommodate further growth and has since made a number of strategic hires, including acquiring the Haley & Co and William Ho boutiques, and adding asset finance and private client expert Marcus Dearle.

BLP’s managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: ‘This is a significant milestone for us as we continue to realise our ambitions as a global real estate and infrastructure powerhouse.’

Another BLP partner added: ‘The firm took its time in Asia as it didn’t want to hire someone average there. The Mayer Brown team is arguably the best real estate team in the region.’

Conversely, in March BLP parted company with nine of its lawyers, including intellectual property (IP) head Simon Clark and head of the brand management and trade marks group Ian Gruselle, who left for TMT specialist Bristows after the firm identified the practice as ‘not a central issue for clients’.

Mishcon de Reya has also recently hired BLP partners David Leibowitz and Joanna Lampert, while US securities partner Bobby Schrader is joining Barclays after less than two years with the firm.

BLP and Mayer Brown’s real estate team in London recently faced each other in March on the £1bn sale of London landmark, the Leadenhall Building (The Cheesegrater), one of the largest Chinese purchases of UK real estate.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Triple exit for BLP as Mishcon and Barclays take on partners

Triple exit for BLP as Mishcon and Barclays take on partners

Mishcon de Reya has hired Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) partners David Leibowitz and Joanna Lampert, while partner Bobby Schrader is joining Barclays after less than two years with BLP.

Restructuring and insolvency partner Leibowitz and real estate litigator Lampert will join Mishcon on 2 May. Leibowitz is the second departure from BLP’s restructuring and insolvency group in the last three years, after the firm lost highly rated former head Ben Larkin to Jones Day in 2014.

His departure leaves BLP’s restructuring practice with three partners, including head Ben Jones, and partners Marc Trottier and Ian Benjamin. It is understood Leibowitz is not likely to be replaced, as the firm’s current strategy is to focus on its core sectors.

Leibowitz has been at BLP for nearly 30 years. He qualified in 1986, was made up to partner in 1992 and has litigation experience acting for banks, insolvency practitioners, trade creditors, shareholders, the Insolvency Service and foreign lawyers. Lampert has been at BLP since 1999 and was made up to partner in 2006. She specialises in the most contentious aspects of real estate and acts for owners, occupiers, developers and funders of corporate real estate.

Meanwhile, Schrader is joining Barclays following a recent secondment with the bank. He joined BLP as partner in late 2015 from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) to start a US securities group and build the corporate finance practice. Schrader had been at BAML for a decade and was last assistant general counsel and director. One BLP partner said: ‘Barclays is a valuable client relationship for us, and the US securities practice is more of a support function on deals rather than originating its own work. So the firm decided rather than keep supporting the practice, he had a great opportunity at Barclays and that was mutually beneficial for the firm and the client.’

Most recently, BLP confirmed in March that nine of its lawyers, including intellectual property (IP) head Simon Clark and head of the brand management and trademarks group Ian Gruselle are leaving the firm for TMT specialist Bristows as the firm identified it as ‘not a central issue’ for clients in the firm’s core sectors in a review conducted last year. Earlier this year, Playtech also hired relationship partner Alex Latner as general counsel.

Recent BLP hires include data protection partner Kate Brimsted from Reed Smith and corporate tax partner Mark Brailsford from Osborne Clarke, both hired last month.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Women make up two thirds of CRS partnership round as BLP drastically reduces promotions

Women make up two thirds of CRS partnership round as BLP drastically reduces promotions

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has made up four partners worldwide in a significantly smaller promotions round, while Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) promoted four in London, two thirds of whom are women, in a round of six.

BLP promoted about a quarter of last year’s round when it made up 17. Of this year’s four promotions, half were in London, one in Frankfurt and one in Moscow.

The two partners promoted in the City, Patrick Johnson and Gareth Stringer, are joining the corporate and real estate practices respectively. Philippe Kamarowsky also joins the finance practice in Frankfurt, while Vitaly Dianov joins litigation and corporate risk in Moscow.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew (pictured) said: ‘2017 has produced four outstanding lawyers worthy of their promotions. Those joining our partnership will be role models and encourage others to progress their careers at our firm.’

Meanwhile, CRS also promoted six to partner. Helen Hutton and Naomi Nettleton joined the real estate practice, Paul Arathoon joined in business services, Sakhjit Randhawa in private propertly, while Rupa Lakha and Michael O’Connor joined in construction.

CRS senior partner Christopher Page said: ‘These promotions are a reward for hard work, quality skills, top service to our clients and considerable contribution to enhancing the values and reputation of the firm. Our hard work and dedicated focus on diversity is paying dividends, with two thirds of those promoted being female.’

The new appointments are effective 1 May.

Other firms to release their partner promotions this month include Herbert Smith Freehills promoting 21 globally across eight offices, with 12 based in the UK and EMEA, as Allen & Overy  made up 10 partners in London in an increased global round of 24.

Meanwhile, Addleshaw Goddard saw a sharp drop in the number of associates being made up, from 15 last year to five5 in this year’s round, and a further drop from the 18 promoted in 2015.

The full list of partner promotions is as follows:

BLP

Patrick Johnson, London, corporate

Gareth Stringer, London, real estate

Philippe Kamarowsky, Frankfurt, finance

Vitaly Dianov, Moscow, litigation and corporate risk

CRS

Paul Arathoon, London, business services

Helen Hutton, London, real estate

Naomi Nettleton, London, real estate

Rupa Lakha, London, construction

Michael O’Connor, London, construction

Sakhjit Randhawa, London, private property

Legal Business

Three more years: Tesco extends real estate mandate with BLP

Three more years: Tesco extends real estate mandate with BLP

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has re-signed a deal with Tesco, giving it a three year mandate as the supermarket giant’s lead property adviser.

The supermarket’s property adviser mandate was last extended in 2014 when Tesco dropped Ashurst from its panel. The move was viewed as an endorsement of BLP’s key practice area and an early success for its low cost Manchester base.

Tesco uses Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for corporate and commercial work and the Magic Circle firm recently advised the supermarket as it signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and agreed to pay the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) £129m in fines relating to a 2014 profit misstatement, avoiding prosecution after a two-year investigation. The agreement is subject to court approval.

The GC Powerlist 2016 also lists Allen & Overy, Hill Dickinson and Squire Patton Boggs among Tesco’s regular advisers.

While BLP has moved away from other non-core practice areas such as intellectual property, the real estate practice, led by Chris de Pury, has seen recent success, picking up high-profile mandates such as advising CC Land on its offer for the Leadenhall building, also known as the Cheesegrater.

The firm also benefited from the demise of King & Wood Mallesons’ European practice by targeting clients instead of partners. It bagged a sole adviser mandate from former legacy SJ Berwin client The Crown Estate as it appointed BLP lead adviser on its central London property portfolio, which is currently delivering a £1.5bn investment and redevelopment programme in and around Regent Street.

Other recent sole adviser mandates include Merlin Entertainments’ decision to appoint DLA Piper as its primary supplier for global construction as well as UK commercial, property and HR work.

General counsel Matt Jowett, who took over from Merlin’s longstanding group legal director and company secretary Colin Armstrong agreed a primary supply retainer arrangement with DLA at the start of 2017, but will continue to work with other firms in the UK on non-retainer work or work where DLA is conflicted.

victoria.young@legalease.co.uk