Legal Business

Back in-house: Bevan Brittan ends outsourcing agreement to bring 90 admin staff into the firm

LB100 firm Bevan Brittan has brought 90 administrative staff back into the firm, ending its six-year agreement with Intelligent Office UK – which takes outsourced services from professional services firms.

Bevan Brittan first transferred 75 staff in a back-office outsourcing deal in 2011, including secretarial, reception, specialist procurement, document production and print and mail services. It is understood that many of the same staff that joined Intelligent Office in 2011 have returned to Bevan Brittan.

In a statement, the firm said: ‘Following a review of the services provided, Bevan Brittan decided not to renew the contract with Intelligent Office. As a result over 90 people, currently employed by Intelligent Office and based across the Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London offices, transferred to Bevan Brittan.’

The firm’s managing partner Duncan Weir added: ‘We took the decision not to renew the contract with Intelligent Office as we want to manage the quality of these services ourselves. Our new colleagues transferring across from Intelligent Office play an important role in supporting our lawyers and looking after our clients when they are in our offices.’

A source at the firm also said that Bevan Brittan’s recent revenue growth meant that the firm was in a healthy financial position to bring the services back in-house onto the payroll, bringing the firm’s total number of staff to 400.

The firm saw turnover increase last year by 8% to £37.7m, while profit per equity partner jumped 6% to £306,000. Bevan Brittan has grown 9% from the financial year 2010-11 when turnover was £34m.

Other law firm clients listed by Intelligent Office as clients include HBJ Gateley, Wedlake Bell, Bircham Dyson Bell and Capsticks.

Legal Business

‘Change of direction’: Bevan Brittan refuses to retender for SRA legal panel


LB100 firm Bevan Brittan has declared it will not retender for the Solicitor Regulation Authority’s legal panel, after reviewing the level of investment needed to service the regulatory body.

The firm said today (1 December) it does not want to be considered in the next selection round, adding that its main partner for SRA work has left the firm for Kingsley Napley.

Bevan Brittan’s practice advising the SRA was previously one of its key practices with the firm acting for the SRA during the administration of Halliwells.

Bevan Brittan regulatory partner Iain Miller was the key relationship partner, however the firm stated he was set to leave the firm. The firm had previously turned down some less profitable work for the SRA, choosing only to advise on complex SRA intervention work.

The Bristol headquartered firm was previously appointed to the firm’s litigation panel in 2010 and 2013. The SRA is currently in the process of reviewing its legal panel after the current roster expired on 30 June.

The current litigation panel of six firms includes Kingsley Napley, Simmons & Simmons, Capsticks, Devonshires, Russell-Cooke and Bevan Brittan.

Managing partner Duncan Weir said: ‘This year, Bevan Brittan has been successfully extending its range of services and growing its client base into new business sectors and geographies.

‘In preparation for the SRA re-tender, we reviewed the continuing level of investment required to deliver this aspect of our legal regulatory work and decided not to re-tender for the SRA panel work. This was not an easy decision because the SRA has been a valued client for a number of years.

‘Iain Miller, who has been our lead partner on this work, has now opted for a change of direction, and will be leaving the firm. We thank Iain for his service and time at Bevan Brittan and we wish him every success in the future.’

The SRA’s future is currently under review, with proposals to make the regulator fully independent from the Law Society under review by the Ministry of Justice.

An SRA spokesperson said: ‘We are currently in the middle of a competitive process to appoint a new panel. We were disappointed that Bevan Brittan did not retender, but are pleased that we have had strong interest from a range of firms.’

He added: ‘We are confident that the process will deliver a result that gives us excellent legal support, while also achieving value for money.’


Legal Business

Team work in the public sector as Bevan Brittan joins forces with Harrow and Barnet councils


The dividing line between private practice and public legal services providers is blurring again with Harrow and Barnet councils unveiling a new partnership with Bevan Brittan as the two local authorities become the first to apply for an alternative business structure (ABS) licence.

Harrow and Barnet councils, which came together in September last year to create HB Public Law (HBPL) and already provide services a small number of other local authorities, will work in a joint venture with Bevan Brittan to offer combined legal services to both existing and new public services clients, drawing on complementary resources from both sides.

Legal Business 100 firm Bevan Brittan lays claim to being the largest specialist provider of commercial legal services to the public services market in the UK, with a client base that includes a third of all NHS Trusts, all local authorities, 30 housing associations, and over 100 private companies that service the public sector.

The joint venture – as yet unnamed – plans to expand the combined client-base to include health services organisations, housing associations and public services charity organisations.

Bevan Brittan has also advised HBPL in its application to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to become an ABS – the first local authority body to do so. A response is expected in the New Year.

Hugh Peart (pictured), director of law and governance at Harrow LBC and director of HBPL said: ‘We selected [Bevan Brittan] to work with us as it demonstrated a profound understanding of the fast-changing legal market and the mutual opportunities this offered our legal teams. We feel we have similar values as organisations working in the public services arena.’

Bethan Evans, senior partner of Bevan Brittan and lead partner on the partnership project, said: ‘We are so pleased to have been appointed as HBPL’s partner. We feel that we share with colleagues at HBPL a vision about future changes in the legal market and the opportunities this will generate.

‘We are excited about creating a really different way of working and providing legal services to mutual clients. We have supported HBPL in making its ground-breaking application to the SRA for the first local authority owned ABS and we are really keen to turn all the ideas into new ways of working.’

HBPL is not, however, the first public sector body to enter into a joint venture with a law firm. In 2010, Kent Legal Services (KLS), the now 125-strong team led by general counsel (GC) at Kent County Council Geoff Wild, partnered with Midlands-based private practice Geldards to create Law:Public, which offers flexible resources to around 340 public sector clients nationwide.

The partnership came after the council, which had already been selling legal services to local authorities for around ten years, aimed at further extending its geographical reach and the range of services. Its profits together with £1.3m in efficiency savings means KLS has contributed £3.7m to the council in the last year.

When interviewed earlier this year, Wild said that KLS would consider setting up an ABS in order to team up with a non-legal partner to create a new business vehicle.

Legal Business

London Boroughs’ Legal Alliance halves panel as Pinsents, TLT and Ashford reappointed


The London Boroughs’ Legal Alliance (LBLA) has joined the rising number of organisations to drastically slim down its roster of legal advisers in a bid to achieve better value after revamping its panel for the third time in four years.

The LBLA, which includes the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, the City of London Corporation and the West London Waste Authority, more than halved its legal panel to seven in its latest review.

The only new entrant to the two-tier panel, which is worth an estimated £5m over three years, is Freeth Cartwright, which has been appointed to advise on complex regeneration, development, property and planning work alongside Ashfords, Bevan Brittan, Sharpe Pritchard, and TLT.

The second tier of the panel, which covers a range of mainstream legal services including litigation, contracts, procurement, PPP/PFI, property and employment, sees Ashfords, Sharpe Pritchard and TLT again appointed to advise alongside Pinsent Masons and Michelmores.

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea acted as central purchasing body on the procurement exercise, which was led by specialist legal consultancy Kennedy Cater.

Vivienne Horton, director at Kennedy Cater, said: ‘We are delighted by the response to this rigorous procurement process, which has delivered firms with recognised expertise and experience in local government who are well placed to provide the LBLA authorities with legal support that fulfils the significant cost and quality criteria required.’

Tasnim Shawkat, bi-borough director of law at Kensington and Chelsea added: ‘This is a great outcome for the LBLA – delivering once again a panel of firms committed to delivering exceptional service and supporting the challenging and wide ranging work being undertaken by our in-house legal teams. We are particularly pleased with the competitive rates achieved, which show a reduction on those under the old framework.’

Haringey Council and other authorities in London and the South East, although not members of the alliance, will be able to have access to this panel.

The LBLA’s first panel framework, which was established in 2009 saw 16 firms appointed including Eversheds, Kennedys and legacy Dickinson Dees.

Legal Business

NHSLA looks to control growing legal spend in panel review


Newly appointed NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) chief executive Catherine Dixon’s priority will be getting value for money and using law firms to engage with NHS trusts as she prepares for a legal panel review later this year.

Dixon joined the NHSLA in April from the NSPCC where she was general counsel and company secretary. She was previously head of legal at Bupa and in private practice at Eversheds. She replaces outgoing NHSLA chief executive Steve Walker.

Legal Business

Bevan Brittan – Don’t Look Back


Bevan Brittan’s new managing partner began work on 1 May, taking over a firm in a much stronger position than in 2008. While Duncan Weir is keen to move on and face up to future challenges, he will ensure his recent experience in helping turn the firm around will not be wasted.

Bevan Brittan wasn’t ready to participate in this feature initially. When we asked to speak to outgoing chief executive Andrew Manning and new managing partner Duncan Weir for our April issue, we were asked to hold off for a few weeks.