Legal Business

Brodies hires Freshfields partner Fountain amid double corporate hire

Brodies hires Freshfields partner Fountain amid double corporate hire

Scottish firm Brodies is taking its private equity offering up a gear by hiring Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Karen Fountain as part of a double lateral hire into its corporate group.

Brodies has hired fund specialist Fountain and CMS Cameron McKenna private equity partner Douglas Crawford to increase the number of partners at the firm to 94.

Fountain, who recently finished advising Barclays on the spin-off of its natural resources private equity fund, retired from Freshfields in April after 15 years at the firm, having joined from Slaughter and May in 1999. She was a partner for 12 of those years, becoming a key part of the firm’s City funds group.

Intent on returning to Scotland upon her retirement, Fountain joins Brodies’ Edinburgh office, bringing with her expertise in fund formation, joint ventures, investor and management arrangements and regulatory issues.

Crawford, already a senior name in the Scottish legal market, leave CMS just 18 months after the firm’s rescue deal for Dundas & Wilson.

Crawford, who spent five of his 17 years at Dundas & Wilson heading the former Scottish elite firm’s corporate department, joins Brodies as head of private equity.

The energy specialist, who is particularly active in the oil and gas space, will join the firm’s Aberdeen office. Graphite Capital and Bank of Scotland are among his clients. 

The appointments will boost the firm at a time – according to managing partner Bill Drummond – when private equity work is buoyant in Scotland, filling holes left by the relocation of banking work to the City post-Lehman.

Drummond said: ‘At a time when the role of private equity and funds in stimulating a return to economic growth in Scotland and the wider UK is ever-more important, we are very pleased to be looking forward to welcoming Doug and Helen to Brodies. Their expertise will be of value to many clients looking to make investments and establish new vehicles to take advantage of that growth and help stimulate more economic activity.’

Legal Business

Scottish GCs – The pressure is on

Scottish GCs – The pressure is on

As part of our Regional Insight series, we met with senior in-house lawyers and partners from Brodies in Edinburgh to discuss the key issues facing GCs working in Scotland.

The most heavily-used phrase among in-house counsel and private practice lawyers alike is ‘trusted adviser’, so it is therefore unsurprising that this became the first major topic of discussion on an agenda looking at the key pressure points facing in-house counsel. Stuart Clarke, head of legal at Scottish Enterprise, says it is fundamental to be seen as being at the heart of your organisation’s thoughts on how it is going to deliver its business plan.

Legal Business

Brodies’ rise continues with fifth year of revenue growth and profits up 14%

Brodies’ rise continues with fifth year of revenue growth and profits up 14%

Scottish firm Brodies has once again turned in a strong financial performance, reporting a double-digit growth in both revenue and profits per equity partner (PEP) in its audited accounts for the 2014/15 financial year.

Gross revenues rose 11% at the firm to £57.9m for the 2014/15 financial year from £52.1m in the previous year, while PEP jumped 12% to £532,000, up from £474,000 the previous year.

The profit growth comes despite a 9% rise in costs to £30.9m, and the firm saw a 14% increase in profits before partner distributions to £27.1m, while cash balances at the firm grew by 53% to £14.85m. The firm reported no external debt.

The rise in numbers marks the firm’s fifth consecutive year of revenue and profit growth, and a 12% compound annual growth rate over the past decade. Last year, Brodies posted a 13% increase in revenues after breaking the £50m barrier, alongside a 10% rise in PEP.

Overall lawyer and staff headcount at the firm grew 7% from 564 to 603, while partner heads increased by two to 82 up till the end of the last financial year. However, the firm currently houses 92 partners after a spate of lateral hires joined the firm recently including, in June, rival firm Simpson & Marwick’s well-regarded 15-strong family law team and its former head Shaun George.

Investments saw the firm move into new purpose-built offices, Brodies House, in Aberdeen while plans are underway to move its Glasgow offering to new premises. The firm’s IT systems were also improved with the firm achieving certification to the 2013 version of ISO 27001.

In addition, Brodies boosted its partnership by seven in a bumper promotions round – a significantly larger round than in the last two years – while promoting nine to a newly-created managing associate role.

Brodies managing partner Bill Drummond said: ‘The past financial year saw gradual improvement in the Scottish and wider UK economy, the historic referendum on the question of Scottish independence and continued change in the Scottish legal market, with the disappearance of yet more well-known independent firms. Against this backdrop, Brodies focused on delivering and investing in client services and engaging with individuals, business and organisations across the UK on the legal aspects of potential constitutional change.

‘Improved economic stability led many clients to invest in their businesses and ventures and re-visit their personal affairs, and as a result our lawyers have been busier than ever, with those handling disputes and regulatory issues becoming particularly active in the second half of the year.’

Legal Business

Hiring the team: 15-strong group exits Simpson & Marwick to join Brodies

Hiring the team: 15-strong group exits Simpson & Marwick to join Brodies

Scottish firm Simpson & Marwick’s well-regarded, 15-strong, family law team, including its current head Shaun George, has quit the firm to join Brodies.

Alongside George, family law partners Richard Smith and Lisa Girdwood will also join Brodies in a bid to expand the firm’s client base among international families with Scottish members and interests. The trio are joined by a team of 12 including three associates and four solicitors, who will all join Brodies’ personal and family department on 1 June 2015.

George will be based in Brodies’ Aberdeen office and will head the firm’s family law team, succeeding Edinburgh-based partner Scott Cochrane, who has led the team for 13 years. George leaves Simpson & Marwick after eleven years having joined from Burnside Kemp Fraser, where he was a partner for three years from 2001.

Smith will be based in Brodies’ Edinburgh office alongside Scott, while Girdwood, was previously head of family law and litigation at Bonar Mackenzie before joining Simpson & Marwick in 2011, will primarily be based in the Glasgow office.

Bill Drummond, managing partner of Brodies, said: ‘Shaun, Richard and Lisa have an outstanding reputation among their clients and the Scottish legal sector alike for their expertise, which extends to mediation and collaborative family law.’

‘This move is designed to enhance the breadth and depth of those services in a world where longevity, multi-jurisdictional asset ownership and growing legal and tax environment divergence and complexity all require careful consideration by individuals and families.’

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Watson Farley and Brodies promote seven while TLT surpasses 100 partners

Partner promotions: Watson Farley and Brodies promote seven while TLT surpasses 100 partners

Watson Farley & Williams, TLT and Scottish firm Brodies are the most recent firms to announce their partner promotions with both Brodies and TLT expanding their rounds while Watson Farley nearly halved the number of lawyers it made up.

Watson Farley’s promotion round is almost half of last year’s total when the firm made up 13 associates. Of the seven new partners, three were made up in London, the same as last year, and one each in the firm’s Frankfurt, Hong Kong, New York and Paris offices, bringing the total number of partners to 140.

This year’s promotions went into effect at the start of the month (1 May) and included two female associates being promoted, with one based in Paris within asset finance and another in London’s corporate team. Other practice areas that saw promotions were corporate, disputes, finance and tax.

TLT, on the other hand, promoted two more than 2014’s level, making up six lawyers to partner and bringing the firm’s total partner headcount to over 100 for the first time.

The promotions, which went into effect on 1 May, were in the firm’s commercial services, and banking and lender services groups, with lawyers based in Belfast, Bristol, London and Manchester.

TLT also promoted to 12 associates to legal director. ‘This year’s promotions demonstrate continued growth across all our UK offices and core areas of expertise,’ said TLT senior partner Robert Bourns. ‘Success depends on our clients recognising value in what we do and our people collaborating to better support each other and deliver effectively for our clients.’

Meanwhile, Scottish law firm Brodies has also had a large round of promotions, making seven up to partner, while promoting nine to a newly-created managing associate role.

All seven promotions were made in different practice areas and took the total partnership headcount to 89. Last year the firm made up just four to its partnership.

Christine O’Neill, chairman of Brodies, said: ‘Our newly promoted partners have impressed our clients, demonstrated excellent legal and leadership skills, and are attuned to the marketplace and future direction of the sectors they serve.

‘This new position [managing associate] acknowledges that a number of our experienced associates are already performing important management roles across the firm in delivering our client services. This may include managing teams or being the lynch pin for the delivery of transactions.’

The 2015 promotions are as follows:

Watson Farley Williams:

Ravinder Sandhu – corporate, London

Andrew Ward – disputes, London

Andrew Waters – disputes, London

Daniel Pilarski – tax, New York

Alexia Russell – finance, Paris

Frederik Lorenzen – finance, Frankfurt

Christoforos Bisbikos – finance, Hong Kong


Alice Gardner, corporate

James Chadwick, banking and financial services litigation

Paul Gair, banking and financial services litigation

David Gardner, technology and IP

Richard Houliston, banking and restructuring

Sian Ashton, commercial disputes


Tom Boulton-Jones, corporate

Laurence Douglas, retail & leisure, real estate

Matthew Farrell, business disputes and asset recovery

Charles Livingstone, public law and regulatory

Marion MacInnes, banking and finance

Chris McDaid, commercial real estate

Murray Soutar, land and rural business

Legal Business

Scottish revival: Growth for Brodies, Maclay and Shepherd as Scots independence vote hangs over recovery

Scottish revival: Growth for Brodies, Maclay and Shepherd as Scots independence vote hangs over recovery

Described last year as both beleaguered and bleak, the Scottish legal market is this year seeing something of a revival as revenue at Maclay Murray & Spens (MMS) – one of the LB 100’s worst performers in 2013 – was last week revealed to have risen by 7% from £40.4m to £43.3m and profit per equity partner (PEP) jump by £50,000 to £261,000, a 24% hike.

The results – which follow Scots rival Shepherd and Wedderburn’s 2014 turnover increase of 6.7% to £38.3m and a PEP increase of 9.8% to £278,000 – came in the same week that Brodies, one of the standout performers among its Scottish rivals last year, unveiled a fourth consecutive year of turnover and profit growth, with a 13.2% increase in revenue to hit £52.1m.

Final leading Scottish independent Burness Paull, created out of the December 2012 merger of Burness and Paull & Williamsons, has yet to publish its results but is understood to have had another good year, after 2013 saw it unveil a turnover of £38.7m, up 59% on legacy firm Burness’ £24.3m revenue at the end of 2011/12.

Dundas & Wilson, which merged with CMS in May this year, is expected shortly to unveil its last independent set of results, after a poor financial performance saw its turnover drop by 35% post-2008 to £48.7m.

MMS has put its growth this year down to improved market conditions and strong performances in corporate, tax, real estate, construction and financial services work that allowed the firm to invest further in five lateral hires last year.

Chief executive Kenneth Shand told Legal Business: ‘There are generally improved market conditions and more confidence, with more investment available to businesses.’

Having last year seen revenue drop by 33% over the five-year period since 2008, the firm’s latest financial results don’t go as far as putting it back to pre-Lehman levels, but its drop over a five-year period has been reduced to 21%.

Shepherd’s latest figures mean last year’s drop in revenue of 16% since 2008 has fallen to 3% since 2009.

It is a substantial recovery and Shand added: ‘The legal sector has faced a period of considerable economic uncertainty and has also had to tackle structural change. We have by no means been immune to these challenges but I am confident we have a very strong platform from which to move forward. Continued investment in our London and Scottish offices, underpinned by our active role in Lex Mundi, the leading global network of independent law firms, remains at the heart of our strategy, which will allow us to support clients across domestic and international markets.’

MMS currently sees around a quarter of its income derived from London and plans further strategic growth, with a particular eye on its successful financial services practice.

For Brodies, meanwhile, since an 8% dip in revenue to £35.8m during 2009/10, the firm has grown its turnover by 45.6%; a compound annual growth rate of 12% over both the last three-year strategic period and the past decade.

Operating profits before partner distributions increased by 23% from £19.3m last year to £23.7m in 2013/14, a year that saw the firm take leases for new premises in Aberdeen and Glasgow, pushing up its costs by 6.2% to £28.4m.

The firm has also invested in outside talent, and in the 12 months to 30 April, the number of partners at Brodies rose from 75 to 80, boosted by seven lateral hires, including regulatory and competition lawyer Rod Lambert from Norton Rose Fulbright in London to its Edinburgh office and corporate lawyer Neil Burgess from DLA Piper in Glasgow. Over the same period, the number of lawyers and professional advisers at the firm increased from 326 to 348.

While some question whether this level of growth is sustainable in light of Brodies’ Scotland-centric focus, Bill Drummond, managing partner at Brodies, said: ‘Over the past year we have seen further sweeping changes in the Scottish legal market. However, this changing environment, and the slowly improving economic prospects present opportunities for Brodies and for our clients. We remain committed to our strategy of supporting clients within and from Scotland in all sectors that are fundamental to the continued success of the Scottish economy.

‘The improving UK economy and more stable conditions in the Eurozone have encouraged many clients to move forward with greater confidence in the long-awaited recovery and to invest in their businesses and ventures. This fed through into increased transactional activity for the firm, especially for our real estate, corporate M&A, energy and finance teams.’

Senior partners are largely feeling optimistic for the year ahead, although hanging over the recovery is the untold impact of the referendum on Scottish independence on business confidence and investment, with the summer months expected to see a slow down. However Shand said: ‘We have a lot of projects in the pipeline. At worst they will come about in the Autumn and we’re cautiously positive.’

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Brodies hires Transocean former GC as Squire Sanders and Bird & Bird make key hires

Revolving Doors: Brodies hires Transocean former GC as Squire Sanders and Bird & Bird make key hires

The past week was one for lateral hires outside the City, as Brodies boosted its oil and gas practice with the hire of former Transocean general counsel for Africa and the Mediterranean, Tom Hickey; Squire Sanders beefed up its construction team in Manchester with former head of construction and engineering and corporate services at Pannone, Sean McCay; and Bird & Bird bolstered its Brussels base with the second competition partner exit from Ashurst’s Brussels office in two months.

Dual-qualified in England and Wales and the State of California, upstream oil and gas expert Hickey is to join Brodies’ Aberdeen-led oil & gas team on 6 April but will continue to operate from Paris, where he has been based for the last 15 months while with Transocean.

While at Transocean Hickey negotiated drilling contracts and supported the firm’s operations, compliance and tax teams as mobile rigs were moved between jurisdictions along the north, west and east African coasts, prior to which he held the position of assistant GC at explorative energy company Hess Corporation between 2000 and 2012.

During that time, Hickey worked out of Hess’ London, Houston, Kuala Lumpur and New York offices, advising on a wide variety of upstream and corporate projects in Europe, West Africa, the Americas, Australia and Asia.

Bill Drummond, managing partner of Brodies, said: ‘Tom has an impressive track record working with cross-functional teams on the successful delivery of complex and challenging projects across the globe.

‘In addition to his proven ability to carry out proactive risk analysis, develop local contractual arrangements and offer innovative solutions to manage risk, his in-house experience has given him a deep understanding of the issues that matter most to corporate clients, whether political, commercial or cultural.’

Also joining the Brodies team, this time in Glasgow, is dual-qualified renewables lawyer Donna Kelly-Gilmour, who came across earlier this month as partner from Glasgow-based boutique Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie.

Meanwhile, below the border, former head of Pannone’s construction and engineering group and corporate services division McCay, returns to Squire Sanders as partner in its construction division in Manchester, where he trained and spent 16 years at the firm until 2006, serving as a partner for seven years.

With more than 20 years’ contentious construction and engineering experience, McCay advises private and public sector clients in the energy, utilities, waste management and engineering industries, with particular expertise in advising on nuclear decommissioning and large infrastructure projects and regeneration schemes.

Also joining Squire Sanders’ 21-lawyer construction team from Pannone is contentious construction associate Jody Kite.

This comes just a few months after Australian firm Slater & Gordon announced the acquisition of the consumer services and personal injury (PI) business of Pannone in November in a deal worth £33m.

Meanwhile, across the channel, Bird & Bird has appointed competition and EU partner Efthymios Bourtzalas from Ashurst’s Brussels outpost, where he has been a partner since 2007, having spent three years as a case handler in the European Commission’s directorate general for competition.

Greek-qualified Bourtzalas has been involved in several high-profile and complex competition law matters at an EU and national level, including in particular several phase I and phase II merger and State aid cases. His practice includes merger control, restrictive agreements, cartels and abuse of dominance cases, state aid, public procurement, external trade, internal market, EU regulatory and institutional matters, and litigation on competition and EU matters before the EU and national courts.

His exit comes just weeks after high-profile competition partner Julian Ellison left Ashurst’s Brussels office in February to join Mayer Brown’s Brussels base in February.

Co-head of Bird & Bird in Belgium, Anne Federle, said: ‘We are very excited to welcome Efthymios to our team. His extensive experience, in particular in the energy and communications sectors, makes him a great fit and his track record of working with clients in South Eastern Europe will support the development of our firm’s activities in this region.’

Legal Business

Financial results 2013: DAC Beachcroft, Stephenson Harwood, Brodies and Morgan Cole reveal their numbers

Financial results 2013: DAC Beachcroft, Stephenson Harwood, Brodies and Morgan Cole reveal their numbers

Top 30 UK firms DAC Beachcroft and Stephenson Harwood today (15 July) unveiled growth in revenue for 2012/13, while Brodies last week revealed a third consecutive increase in turnover and profit and Morgan Cole has seen its profits drop significantly.

DAC Beachcroft’s revenues have increased by 14.2% to £188.2m, up from £164.8m in 2011/12. Net profit at the 1079-lawyer firm also increased by 42% to £31.8m at the end of the last financial year, up from £22.4m the previous year. However, profit per equity partner (PEP) is down by 11.5% from £321,000 in 2011/12 to £284,000.

The firm merged with Davies Arnold Cooper in October 2011 and in January this year became the first European firm to launch in Chile by acquiring two local firms. Managing partner Paul Murray said: ‘Year-on-year comparisons continue to be distorted by the merger mid-year in 2011/12 but these numbers will provide a baseline for next year. Overall the results are acceptable in what continues to be a challenging and changing economic environment.’

Also unveiling its revenue figure today is UK top 30 firm Stephenson Harwood, which announced a more modest growth of 2% to £112.3m at the end of the 2012/13 financial year, up on last year’s figure of £110.2m.

The firm has attributed the growth to ‘some major investments including the recruitment of 12 new partners and the opening of offices in Dubai and Beijing’, chief executive Sharon White (pictured) said.

The firm now has nine offices across Europe, Asia and the Middle East and has acted on a number of high profile international deals over the course of the year, including for Indonesia-based Lion Air for the world’s largest commercial aircraft order, comprising 234 Airbus – A320 and A321 aircraft, with a price list value of $24bn. The firm also advised Hitachi on its bid to provide the rolling stock for London’s Crossrail, with a total contract value of around £1.8bn.

Meanwhile, Scottish firm Brodies has seen its revenue grow for the third year in a row, posting a 7.5% increase to £46m, up on £42.8m last financial year. The firm has credited the successful implementation of the second year of its three-year strategic plan, following on from a revenue increase of 16% in 2011/12, up from £36.9m.

Over the course of the year, the firm, which has four offices across Scotland and in Brussels, has continued to expand its Aberdeen office, which has grown from 34 to 46 staff, including 28 lawyers, as a result of three partner hires and six new lawyers.

Legal Business Management Partner of the Year, Bill Drummond, said: ‘The targeted investment that is being made across the business – in people and infrastructure – positions us well to benefit from stabilising market conditions and our strong balance sheet means that Brodies’ management team can continue to seek suitable investment opportunities to further enhance the service we deliver to our clients.’

Elsewhere, national top 75 firm Morgan Cole has posted a drop in revenue and profit, posting a turnover of £35.4m, down 3.3% from last year’s £36.6m, while PEP also dropped 34.7% to £162,000 from £248,000 in 2011/12.

Managing partner Elizabeth Carr said the firm has spent the past year considering its future business strategy ‘to ensure the right structure to meet the needs of the evolving market’ and subsequent changes to that structure and investment in the firm’s property portfolio means the reduction in revenue and profit are ‘entirely as expected.’

Highlights of the year include growth of £1.7m in the public sector and appointments on the Government Procurement and NHSLA panels.

Carr added: ‘Consolidation, competition and pricing pressures will continue through 2013-14 but we are confident that exemplary service to clients, focused sector marketing and an open approach to merger and acquisition opportunities will result in new clients and increased revenue in 2013-14 and beyond.’

Legal Business

Setting the heather on fire

Setting the heather on fire

Our Management Partner of the Year, Bill Drummond, begins his fifteenth year running Brodies in May. We track his firm’s success amid a turbulent Scots market and ask if Brodies’ rise signals the decline of the country’s traditional elite

Bill Drummond wore his trade mark kilt as he stepped up to be named Management Partner of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in February. The attire was fitting, not because Brodies’ longstanding head is a staunch nationalist, but rather because Drummond has led his firm to startling success on the back of an unashamed focus on his home field.