Legal Business

‘Move in the right direction’: BLM appoints veteran as new managing partner

‘Move in the right direction’: BLM appoints veteran as new managing partner

Insurance law and risk specialist firm BLM announced today (17 July) it has appointed its claims solutions head Vivienne Williams (pictured) as the firm’s new managing partner. She replaced Gary Allison, who retired after 23 years at the firm, last week.

Williams assumed her position for three years with immediate effect. A partner at BLM for 29 years, and a member of the firm’s executive board, Williams headed its claims solutions business stream and the large loss and technical business stream, responsible for the quality of products, service delivery and performance within those areas.

Former managing partner Allison, also the firm’s healthcare lead, had been in the role since December 2016, when he replaced longstanding leader Andrew Relton.

Williams said BLM had made a number of strategic decisions over the last 12-18 months, ‘which has meant a great deal of change at the firm’.

Most recently, this included the expansion of our firm throughout the UK and Ireland and the launch of global insurance law connect, of which the firm is a founder member.

‘I pledge to work closely with colleagues throughout the firm, to ensure that BLM is a great place to work and also continues to move in the right direction,’ she added.

Last November, BLM confirmed plans to reduce 19 out of 40 business support roles in Leeds as it downsized and relocated in the city. In a statement, the Manchester-headquartered firm said it had embarked on a programme of business improvement earlier in the year and had established a ‘premises strategy group’ to review its locations.

With over 200 partners, 13 offices across the UK and over £100m turnover, the LB100 firm’s strategy included recognition as one of the leading global insurance and risk law specialists by 2020.

Last year, BLM posted a 3% increase in turnover to £107.7m, but struggled with profitability, as profits per equity partner fell 14% to £205,000 during the period. The firm said this reflected ‘a year of investment’

In 2014, the firm surpassed the £100m revenue mark, buoyed by its Scottish and Northern Ireland mergers.

On 1 May 2014, Berrymans merged with HBM Sayers to become BLM, creating a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners and additional offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Through further expansion, the firm combined with Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in December 2014, providing the firm with offices in Belfast and Londonderry, eight partners and an additional 21 legal staff.

Georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

BLM to cut more business support roles with up to 15% of staff at risk

BLM to cut more business support roles with up to 15% of staff at risk

Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) is looking to cut up to 50 secretarial and support roles across the firm, totalling 15% of BLM’s overall business support roles, following the firm’s investment in technology and flexible working among lawyers.

It is understood that voluntary redundancy was offered was to over 300 employees in the firm. Staff were informed last Friday (8 June), with the process expected to conclude at the end of this month.

The law firm, which specialises in insurance and risk, has already restructured its business support roles in Leeds.

Mike Brown, senior partner at BLM said in a statement that the firm had decided to review its direct support teams across all locations in line with its business improvement programme.

Brown added that BLM has ‘made a significant investment in developing technology at our firm and many of our lawyers are now working in an agile way which has an impact upon the demand for traditional direct support.’

‘We have therefore offered voluntary redundancy to colleagues in our direct support teams and this process is currently ongoing’, he added.

Last November, Legal Business reported that BLM was to axe nine of 40 business support roles in Leeds as it downsized and relocated its presence in the city.

In a press statement, the firm said it had embarked on a programme of business improvement earlier in the year and that it has established a ‘premises strategy group’ to review its locations.

The firm sought to change the nature of its Leeds operations to ‘create a lean, agile and focused hub in Leeds, thereby reducing our current office space,’ according to a statement.

At that time, BLM said its intention was to maintain as many staff as possible and it was consulting on the proposed redundancies. It said it had a strong customer relationships in place in its Leeds office and would maintain a presence in the city.

In 2015/16, BLM posted a 3% increase in turnover to £107.7m but has struggled with profitability, as profits per equity partner fell 14% to £205,000 during the period.

In 2014/15 the firm surpassed the £100m mark, buoyed by its Scottish and Northern Ireland mergers.

Berrymans merged with HBM Sayers on 1 May 2014 to become BLM, creating a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners and additional offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Further expansion saw the firm combine with Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in December 2014, providing the firm with offices in Belfast and Londonderry, eight partners and an additional 21 legal staff.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

BLM to cut almost half of support staff in Leeds in ongoing restructuring

BLM to cut almost half of support staff in Leeds in ongoing restructuring

LB 100 firm BLM has confirmed it will axe 19 out of 40 business support roles in Leeds as it downsizes and relocates in the city.

In a statement the firm said it had embarked on a programme of business improvement earlier in the year and that it has established a ‘premises strategy group’ to review its locations.

The statement said: ‘We have made a proposal to change the nature of our operations in Leeds and create a lean, agile and focused hub in Leeds, thereby reducing our current office space.’

BLM said its intention was to maintain as many staff as possible, and it was undergoing consultation on the redundancies.

‘We have a number of strong customer relationships in place in our Leeds office. We will continue to maintain a presence in the city.’

Mike Brown, senior partner at BLM said: ‘It is clear to us that the workplace of the future does not necessarily reflect the workplace of today and that the growth of our business will be the result of the investment we make now. It is with this continued investment that we are able to adapt and re-shape our business model to align ourselves to the risk and insurance world.’

BLM posted a 3% increase in turnover to £107.7m in 2015/16 but has struggled with profitability, as profits per equity partner fell 14% to £205,000 during the period.

In 2014/15 the firm surpassed the £100m mark, buoyed by its Scottish and Northern Ireland mergers. Berrymans merged with HBM Sayers on 1 May 2014 to become BLM, creating a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners and additional offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Further expansion saw the firm combine with Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in December 2014, gifting the firm with offices in Belfast and Londonderry, eight partners and an additional 21 legal staff.

victoria.young@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Norton Rose Fulbright takes Hogan Lovells partner as Squires builds in Germany and BLM makes a senior hire

Revolving Doors: Norton Rose Fulbright takes Hogan Lovells partner as Squires builds in Germany and BLM makes a senior hire

Despite the summer break being upon us, law firms have continued to invest in their recruitment strategies. Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) continued to build its Hong Kong offering by hiring a partner from Hogan Lovells, while Squire Patton Boggs turned in-house and BLM scored a ‘major coup’.

NRF has made several additions to its Hong Kong offering of late with David Johnson joining in March from K&L Gates having previously been a partner at Allen & Overy, and the promotions of James Parker and Allan Yee in May. But, the firm took has now taken its partner headcount in the city to 23 with the addition of Hogan Lovells’ Terence Lau.

Lau, who joins as a corporate and equity capital markets partner, was made up to partner in 2008 and has worked on a variety of matters including equity offerings, initial public offerings, M&A, private equity, share repurchases and regulatory and compliance. He has also worked on joint ventures and schemes of arrangement.

Squires also made an international appointment, recruiting Rouven Schwab, general counsel of global fertilizer and specialty chemicals enterprise ICL Group in Frankfurt. Schwab joins as a partner in the firm’s chemicals industry group having been responsible for managing legal activities of over 40 business subsidiaries across Europe and Asia-Pacific.

‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Schwab to the firm’s global chemicals team. His hands-on experience working in-house at a global manufacturer will be valuable asset to our international clients,’ said Carolyn Buller, Squires’ chemicals group chief.

Meanwhile, BLM bolstered its presence in the UK by hiring the head of DAC Beachcroft’s national disease unit Paula Jefferson. She joins BLM’s specialist abuse claims team alongside DAC lawyer Catherine Davey, and employee Sarah Wright.

Jefferson has worked various public sector bodies including faith groups, the ministry of defence, schools and charities on abuse claims as well as on international injury claims such as those following the Mumbai terrorist attack.

Michael Pether, head of BLM’s public sector group, said: ‘The addition of Paula to the team is a major coup for the business and one that will only serve to improve our depth of experience and customer offering  across the many sectors where historic and, all too sadly, more recent abuse arises. Her long track record of sensitively advising in high profile matters, including representing the BBC in connection with the Jimmy Savile claims, speaks for itself and we look forward to sharing the benefits of Paula’s experience with our customers.’

Finally, Balfour Beatty revealed its new group General Counsel (GC) after Chris Vaughan stepped away from the position. David Mercer takes on the role having been GC for the group’s UK construction and services businesses since 2011. Mercer previously worked in-house at BP and as a partner at Upstream Law.

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

PEP up to £265k as BLM’s mergers lift firm past £100m turnover mark

PEP up to £265k as BLM’s mergers lift firm past £100m turnover mark

Helped by its Scottish and Northern Ireland mergers, BLM has surpassed the £100m turnover mark and posted £104m in revenues for the 2014/15 financial year.

The enlarged firm, which has 77 equity and 133 non-equity partners, posted profits of £18.3m with a profit per equity partner (PEP) figure of £265,000. Although that equates to the same profit margin as before its two tie-ups last year, 18%, the firm’s PEP is up by £16,000. In 2013/14, Berrymans Lace Mawer posted revenues of £89m with a PEP of £249,000.

With clients demanding insurance firms offer services across the UK, Berrymans merged with HBM Sayers on 1 May last year to become BLM, creating a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners and additional offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Further expansion saw the firm combine with Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in December 2014, gifting the firm with offices in Belfast and Londonderry, eight partners and an additional 21 legal staff.

Senior partner of the 950-lawyer firm, Mike Brown, commented: ‘We continue to act for 12 of the top-15 UK and Ireland insurers and whilst risk and insurance certainly remains at our core, given our substantial presence in the general insurance, London Market and broking sectors, we’re increasing profile within our other sectors, growing revenue and securing new business from leading corporates, health and care organisations and public sector bodies.’

The recent expansion of insurance-focused firms north of the border has seen Kennedys open two offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh through partner hires from commercial litigation firm Francis Gill & Co and McClure Naismith, while DAC Beachcroft, Shoosmiths, and DWF all now have offices in Scotland, most of which were achieved through the takeover of a struggling domestic firm. Clyde & Co has also confirmed that it is in merger discussions with Simpson & Marwick.

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Weightmans makes an all-female round as BLM cuts its to six and Browne Jacobson’s partnership passes 100

Partner promotions: Weightmans makes an all-female round as BLM cuts its to six and Browne Jacobson’s partnership passes 100

This week saw Weightmans carry out its first all-female promotions round, making four women up to partner level, while BLM made up six in a reduced round from 2014 and Browne Jacobson promoted seven new partners taking its total partnership to 104.

Weightmans’s round also saw the firm use its Alternative Business Structure for a second year to promote non-legal employees to a Fixed Share Membership (FSM). The firm promoted HR director Sam Airey to FSM, following the first promotion of a business services employee last year, with marketing director Sarah-Jane Howitt.

The three other promotions at the firm were in commercial insurance, corporate finance and corporate dispute resolution. Commenting on the all-female promotions, Airey said: ‘Weightmans prides itself on its people-focused culture and encourages a healthy work life balance. As HR Director, I am delighted and excited about these promotions as it sends a positive message throughout the firm, that we recognise the importance of flexible working.’

In what saw the firm surpass the 100-partner mark, Browne Jacobson made the majority of its promotions in its Birmingham office, which saw five of the seven while a further two partners were made up in Nottingham. The promotions were spread evenly among practices with each partner specialising in a different area.

Meanwhile, as well as the six partner promotions, BLM made 27 associate promotions across five of the firm’s business streams, with 12 in claims solutions, 10 in large loss and technical, three in speciality and financial lines, seven in healthcare and commercial, and one in the firm’s Ireland business stream.

The partner round was much reduced from last year when BLM made up 24 partners after having recently finalised its merger with HBM Sayers.

The list of partner promotions in full is as follows:

Weightmans

Sam Airey, Liverpool, HR Director

Patricia Grinyer, Liverpool, corporate finance

Navdip Wilson, Leicester, commercial insurance and local government

Carole Spiller, Manchester, corporate dispute resolution

Browne Jacobson

Richard Freeth, Birmingham, education

Emma Hopkinson, Birmingham, banking

Mike Jackson, Birmingham, corporate

Lisa McGinn, Birmingham, property

Tim Rayner, Birmingham, property Litigation

Michael Sadler, Nottingham, construction

Lucy Worwood, Nottingham, tax

BLM

Caroline Haydock

Kelly Matthews

Karen Redmore

Matthew Perkins

Sarah Murray-Smith

Jane Littlewood

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘We’re on a journey we haven’t completed yet’: BLM elects senior partner Mike Brown for second term

‘We’re on a journey we haven’t completed yet’: BLM elects senior partner Mike Brown for second term

In an uncontested election, risk and insurance-focused law firm BLM has unanimously re-elected its senior partner, Mike Brown, for a further three-year appointment.

His term will take effect this month with Brown, a healthcare litigation specialist, having first been appointed in 2012 to handle the leadership, promotion and development of the firm. He further chairs the firm’s executive and partnership boards.

Speaking to Legal Business, Brown said: ‘We have a longstanding ambition to be one of the global leading risk and insurance firms by 2020. As a consequence of the combinations we’ve achieved through the UK and Northern Ireland, we are getting approached by overseas firms to do business with us. One always has to be alive to opportunity. We’re not in talks at the minute, but we’ve had approaches.’

Brown added: ‘We’re on a journey we haven’t completed yet. We’ve managed to reposition, rebrand and develop the business through combinations with other firms. But we still have ambition to move the business forward. I’m just fulfilling the brief.’

Having joined legacy AW Mawer & Co in 1987, Brown has been instrumental in leading the firm through two combinations, most notably the sizeable union of Berrymans Lace Mawer with HBM Sayers on 1 May 2014 to become BLM, creating a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners. The new offering brought together 630 lawyers and technical specialists with operations across 12 offices in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. HBM has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Further expansion included its December combination with Northern Ireland-based Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors in December 2014, gifting the firm with eight partners and an additional 21 legal staff.

The firm’s agenda this year will see it relocate from its London office at Salisbury House, London Wall, to Plantation Place in Central London, the City’s primary financial district. Brown said: ‘The primary objective is to ensure the business is growing and financially sound, and continue to support our customers while gaining traction with them.

‘We’ve undertaken significant hires in the last twelve months. We’ve got further lateral hires in the pipeline, we’re opening our new office next month and we’ve had people approach us about what else they can do.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Scottish union – Berrymans Lace Mawer ties up with HBM Sayers

Scottish union – Berrymans Lace Mawer ties up with HBM Sayers

The toll of top UK law firms opening in Scotland increased today (17 March) with the announcement that Berrymans Lace Mawer and HBM Sayers are combining to create a £100m risk and insurance-focused firm with 170 partners.

The new offering, called BLM, will house 630 lawyers and technical specialists with operations across 12 offices in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. HBM has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.

The merger came after client reviews at both firms had revealed a significant market opportunity for legal suppliers ‘with the physical presence and expertise to support clients throughout the UK and Ireland,’ the firms said.

Both firms already have a presence in the general insurance sector, the London market, and amongst brokers. The objective of the merger is to boost their standing among corporate insurers, the public sector and the healthcare industry.

Berrymans’ has turned out a largely positive financial performance in recent years with revenues up 4% in the last financial year to £84.7m, although profit per equity partner dropped 12% to £224,000. Since 2008, revenues have risen by a substantial 63%

HBM Sayers meanwhile, is acknowledged as a first-tier and second-tier firm in personal injury and health & safety matters respectively by the Legal 500, while also securing panel appointments in recent years with Aviva, AXA, Alianz and QBE.

Berrymans’ senior partner Mike Brown said: ‘We’re excited about helping our clients to save time and money reducing risk, resolving disputes and managing claims. As BLM we will be able to do that across more lines of business and in more locations for more clients. The combination will give us a competitive edge at a time when Scotland’s legal market is changing, presenting our business with significant opportunities.’

Chair of the HBM Sayers management board, David Taylor added: ‘Both businesses have been open about their ambitions to grow. This is absolutely right because we share many of the same clients and have a similar style and approach to meeting the needs of those clients. The things clients say they like about Berrymans Lace Mawer are the same things that they say they like about HBM Sayers.’

While the prediction that 2014 will be another record year for law firm mergers has not, so far, been borne out, other UK firms to have secured a Scottish tie-up include CMS Cameron McKenna and Dundas & Wilson announced last December, while in 2012 Pinsent Masons tied up with McGrigors and DWF combined with Biggart Baillie, although in the same year Kennedys and Simpson Marwick called off their merger talks.

Sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk