Legal Business

‘Not just a generic consultancy’: BCLP launches in-house innovation and technology arm

‘Not just a generic consultancy’:  BCLP launches in-house innovation and technology arm

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has continued its spate of innovation launches, combining parts of its transatlantic innovation teams to create an in-house consultancy, Cantilever.

Cantilever will aim to provide an operational and technology sounding board for clients, while also offering practical technology solutions across areas including contract, matter and litigation management.

‘We’re going to work with clients to tell them what technology solutions are out there and what works best, that’s the consultancy side,’ Bruce Braude, director of legal operations and solutions at BCLP told Legal Business. ‘But also we have our own technology with CrossLite, our data management and analytics tool, which was developed in the US but now as part of the merger [of Bryan Cave and Berwin Leighton Paisner] and the Cantilever launch will be offered to clients on the UK side of the business.’

Cantilever will be led by BCLP chief innovation officer Katie DeBord and the firm’s chief of legal operation solutions, Chris Emerson. Braude, meanwhile, will be part of a wider team that consists of 20 process engineers and data scientists, as well as other legal technologists.

The announcement follows a string of innovation launches from BCLP, the most recent of which was disputes evaluation service Clear/Cut, while in May the firm launched its homegrown legal tech start up Swiftagree.

BCLP aims to make the new consultancy and technology arm a revenue generator for the firm, with in-house legal teams increasingly looking to adopt technology and revise their legal processes.

‘There aren’t many similar things out there,’ Braude added. ‘Cantilever will have a deep understanding of in-house teams and extensive sector knowledge, it’s not just a generic consultancy, and we also have our own technology to bring to bear.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Freshfields insolvency veteran heads for the Bar as BCLP and 2Birds beef up global ranks

Revolving doors: Freshfields insolvency veteran heads for the Bar as BCLP and 2Birds beef up global ranks

It has been another busy week on the lateral market, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer seeing other departures and a raft of international firms growing their ranks in Europe and the US.

Freshfields’ restructuring and insolvency partner Nicholas Segal will leave the Magic Circle firm after 12 years to start a new career at Erskine Chambers in September after completing the formalities to join the Bar.

A Magic Circle veteran, Segal was at Allen & Overy until 2003, when he joined Davis Polk’s New York office and became dual qualified. After joining Freshfields in 2006, he acted for Northern Rock during its 2007 crisis and has sat as a judge of the Grand Court in Cayman since 2015.

Erskine’s head Michael Todd QC said: ‘Nick is a leading figure in the restructuring arena and his expertise will further strengthen our reputation with our commercial clients as a go-to set for company and insolvency matters.’

Freshfields also lost its Vienna head of arbitration Moritz Keller to Clifford Chance (CC) last week. He will join the Magic Circle rival’s Frankfurt office.

‘Moritz perfectly complements our strong German and international team with his expertise as a trusted arbitration and litigation specialist, adding value to our clients,’ said CC’s Germany managing partner Peter Dieners.

The exits came the week after Freshfields announced the departure of high-yield partner Ward McKimm for his former shop Shearman & Sterling. He returns to Shearman’s capital markets practice where he worked for 14 years, becoming partner in 2005 and co-head of its corporate group in 2010. McKimm later joined Kirkland & Ellis before moving to Freshfields in 2015.

Elsewhere, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) announced the appointment of Mukul Chawla QC to lead its UK corporate crime team in London, part of the firm’s global investigations practice.

Chawla comes from Foundry Chambers and specialises in fraud and white collar crime. In the past two years Chawla has served as the lead adviser to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on its largest investigation, a multi-jurisdictional multi-defendant case on suspected bribery by Unaoil and a range of other companies. He also conducted the first Libor rate manipulation prosecutions in the UK.

Nathan Willmott, co-head of BCLP’s global investigations practice, said that Chawla ‘has an unparalleled insight into the approach of the SFO and other prosecuting bodies’.

On the other side of the pond, Bird & Bird appointed Kai Westerwelle to its San Francisco outpost, the firm’s first office in the States. Westerwelle had been co-head of Taylor Wessing’s international US group and partner since 2003.

He will join the firm in September as the new California base opens, advising clients on international disputes, intellectual property and data privacy issues.

Meanwhile, US giants Kirkland and Latham continued their advance both sides of the Atlantic.

Corporate partner Dennis Williams is to join Kirkland’s New York office from DLA Piper. He focuses on healthcare regulatory, compliance and transactional matters.

Latham is continuing its expansion in Germany with the hire of partner Tim Wybitbul from Hogan Lovells. Wybitul will join the US firm’s Frankfurt litigation and trial department and also be a member of its data privacy and security practice.

‘Tim is a highly regarded practitioner, with vast experience advising clients on the full spectrum of privacy law matters, and he will add further depth to our German and European practice,’ said Germany managing partner Oliver Felsenstein.

Latham has been expanding aggressively in Germany this year, scooping a number of Magic Circle partners. In May it hired CC’s banking veteran Thomas Weitkamp in Munich, while in March it brought in Freshfields’ corporate partner Tobias Larisch.

Legal Business

Comment: BCLP offers a (slightly) better post-merger pitch than expected

Comment: BCLP offers a (slightly) better post-merger pitch than expected

It would take a generous observer of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) to claim the once sure-footed outfit had managed anything better than an indifferent run in the years preceding its union with Bryan Cave. Having dazzled through the 2000s – a period in which the firm seemed to have single-handedly revived the unfashionable notion of a City mid-tier – the last five years have been a stark contrast. Volatile financial performance, a disastrous run of partner recruitment and tension over its property-heavy direction – all in, it was unclear where the firm was going.

As such, confirmation earlier this year that BLP was uniting with a solid US operator, but one whose brand had limited potency in Europe, did not quicken the pulse.

Nevertheless, sentiment has warmed somewhat as the first integrated transatlantic merger of note for more than a decade went live last month. That is largely because of the absence of immediate fall-out, not an inconsiderable achievement with something as complex as a large US/UK merger. The signals are that the partnership’s mood now ranges between genuine enthusiasm and another group willing to give the tie-up considerable benefit of the doubt, sentiments topped off with relief that BLP has finally taken its mooted BIG STEP. Judging these kinds of combinations – the deals that can get done in the real world rather than the fairytales partners tell themselves – that’s about the best you can hope for.

Judging these combinations – the deals that get done in the real world – the absence of fallout is the best you can hope for.

And to give due credit, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP)’s co-chairs Therese Pritchard and Lisa Mayhew in this month’s interview give a credible and frank account of the thinking behind the tie-up. The near-decade of evidence amassed on the performance of multi-profit-centre law firms has so far done nothing to substantiate the claims their supporters made that the model had no negative impact on partner alignment or client service. Verein-backed law firms have in general been outperformed by comparable integrated rivals in the last five years. Under the circumstances, BCLP’s focus on immediate financial and governance union is laudable. It is also promising that there is talk of pressing for a more driven culture. BLP had reached the limits of what could be achieved with its real estate business. Fresh progress will require pushing further outside its heartlands, even if there will be scepticism of its scope to improve dramatically in mainstream transactional disciplines. No-one disputes that BCLP needs to show it can be a home for ambitious lawyers beyond property in Europe. The firm will also benefit from a substantial cash injection, having just sold its 62% stake in Lawyers On Demand, a move that should have fetched a decent sum (it is, however, surprising it did not retain a modest stake as a tactical investment).

Ultimately, success will hinge on if BCLP proves something like a genuine merger rather than the graceless, grudge-strewn takeovers that have so far defined legal tie-ups across the Atlantic. And that will take a lot more than some warm fuzzies from the troops and some fluent communication from the top at the first partners’ conference in Florida. But it is a start.

alex.novarese@legalease.co.uk

For more on BCLP see our interview with BCLP’s Lisa Mayhew and Therese Pritchard: Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union

Legal Business

Refreshing revamps: EDF and Co-op Group look to new firms in panel reviews

Refreshing revamps: EDF and Co-op Group look to new firms in panel reviews

One of the UK’s big six energy suppliers, EDF Energy, has nearly halved its external advisers in a bid to plug into ‘deeper’ relationships, while the addition of two new firms mirrors the refreshment seen elsewhere in the Co-operative Group’s revamped legal panel.

In late April, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) were added to EDF’s new panel of eight firms, which has been cut from the previous 14.

Legal Business

BCLP: A slightly better sales pitch than expected

BCLP: A slightly better sales pitch than expected

It would take a generous observer of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) to claim the once sure-footed outfit had managed anything better than an indifferent run in the years preceding its union with Bryan Cave. Having dazzled through the 2000s – a period in which the firm seemed to have single-handedly revived the unfashionable notion of a City mid-tier – the last five years have been a stark contrast. Volatile financial performance, a disastrous run of partner recruitment and tension over its property-heavy direction – all in, it was unclear where the firm was going.

As such, confirmation earlier this year that BLP was uniting with a solid US operator, but one whose brand had limited potency in Europe, did not quicken the pulse.

Legal Business

Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union

Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union

LB: What was the background to the merger talks?

Therese Pritchard (TP): I started it. It’s my fault. In February of 2017, I was interested in strategic growth. So looking for a firm that had the same culture and practice areas that are successful or where they were interested in growing. I did some reading. I saw enough that looked interesting that it was worth a call to Lisa. One chat led to another and eventually we invited more partners to the discussions and decided this looked like a great fit.

Legal Business

New Law pioneer LOD primed for growth as BCLP sells to buyout house

New Law pioneer LOD primed for growth as BCLP sells to buyout house

Lawyers On Demand (LOD) has secured new private equity backers in place of parent Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) as the New Law pioneer gears up for a growth drive aimed at positioning it as a global player.

Buyout house Bowmark Capital is acquiring BCLP’s entire stake of 62% in LOD for an undisclosed sum. The sale is expected to carry a multi-million pound price tag and represent a significant windfall for BCLP, which was formed by the merger earlier this year of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and US law firm Bryan Cave.  James Lever at Livingstone Partners advised BCLP and LOD’s shareholders, while Stephenson Harwood advised Bowmark on the deal with a team lead by Jonathan Pittal. Jessica Adams at Macfarlanes advised for LOD and Alex Lewis at Baker McKenzie represented the management.

The contract lawyer business, which launched back in 2007 as part of BLP, two years ago merged with Australia’s AdventBalance, and last year posted global turnover of £35m, up 15% annually. The firm, which has operated as a separate business to BLP for six years, has expanded dramatically over the last decade to become one of the most high profile New Law brands in the UK.

Further weakening its links with BCLP will not only prime the business for further growth but make it easier for LOD to build on the 2015 deal with DLA Piper to widen its services to other major law firms. The business had initially focused largely on providing locum lawyers and services to in-house legal teams. After the sale, LOD will maintain a contractual relationship with BCLP to provide services.

‘We absolutely will be working with other law firms, but it wasn’t the primary driver for [the sale],’ LOD co-founder Simon Harper (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘It’s about a faster growth model with new service lines in new territories. It does feel like an important next step. The level of interest and excitement in the sector made the process very easy.’

LOD managing director Tom Hartley commented: ‘This deal was three to four months in the making. We wanted to make sure we had the right partners to back the growth model we have in place here.’ LOD expects to see double-digit revenue growth this year.

LOD has ten offices including multiple sites in each of Australia and Asia, as well as London, New York, Munich and Dubai. It has more than 650 lawyers and consultants on its books and more than 500 corporate and law firm clients. Bowmark, meanwhile, invests in UK mid-market companies and has £850m under management.

BCLP partner Neville Eisenberg commented: ‘BCLP has committed to remain close to LOD, partnering with the business for its flexible lawyer needs and we look forward to seeing the results of this exciting new chapter in LOD’s development.’

BCLP, meanwhile, has far from turned from legal innovation after earlier this month announcing the launch of legal tech start-up in Swiftagree.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

BCLP unveils foray into legal tech start-up scene with contract negotiation platform

BCLP unveils foray into legal tech start-up scene with contract negotiation platform

Newly merged Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has launched a ‘home-grown’ legal tech start-up which produces a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for £5.

The online contracting tool, called Swiftagree, is the firm’s first technology product launch following its April merger, and is said to precede a number of other offerings it will launch this year. BCLP partner Barry Gross and the firm’s legal technologist Bruce Braude developed the concept.

Swiftagree aims aim to increase the efficiency of contract procedures by ensuring parties need only agree on negotiable points of a contract before finalising the negotiation through the platform. It is focused on English law contracts, though is expected to scale to contracts governed by US law.

The firm claim the start-up will ensure a contract is unbiased, and reduce the adversarial nature of traditional contract negotiations as only a few key terms are up for negotiation. The cost is unspecified for broader agreements, but an NDA is £5.

Braude commented on the launch: ‘Swiftagree combines legal and technology trends to create a proposition that delivers material benefits to clients. We believe there is significant potential to further broaden its application and technology capabilities as we progress.’

The start-up will be based internally with a team working within the firm, however external assistance has been given by Surely Group, a provider of technology platforms. Gross believes developing the start-up differs from incubation models seen at other firms, which focus on including third party companies within a law firm’s space.

Gross told Legal Business the firm had been working on the tool for months: ‘This a home-grown BCLP concept. As is always the case with software development, it takes a bit of time.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Moving on up: BCLP heading for new post-merger London digs

Moving on up: BCLP heading for new post-merger London digs

Newly merged Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has signed a lease on a new City office in what it calls a ‘significant commitment’ to a modern working space.

The announcement today (26 April) will see the combined firm move a stone’s throw from legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) London HQ at Adelaide House to the 125,000 sq ft Governor’s House office building at 5 Laurence Pountney Hill.

Legacy Bryan Cave’s London office, which has about 39 fee-earners and 12 partners, is already in the process of moving from its previous London base at 88 Wood Street to Adelaide House.

In a statement, BCLP said: ‘The proposed move represents a significant commitment by the firm to a modern, flexible working space, encouraging of collaborative working.’

The transatlantic merger between legacy Bryan Cave and BLP went live this month, creating a 1600-lawyer, financially-integrated practice with 32 offices across 11 countries, good for a combined revenue of more than $900m.

BLP has been based in Adelaide House since 1970, and has occupied the entire building since 2005. It is in talks with its landlord about what space they will keep in that building.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Addleshaws loses another litigator as Kirkland, Hogan Lovells and Bryan Cave make new hires

Revolving doors: Addleshaws loses another litigator as Kirkland, Hogan Lovells and Bryan Cave make new hires

The steady pace of lateral hires continues in the beginning of 2017, with Kirkland & Ellis, TLT, Hogan Lovells, K&L Gates and Bryan Cave making appointments around the globe.

Addleshaw Goddard has lost another litigator this year as K&L Gates has taken on Clarissa Coleman, who joins from Addleshaw Goddard. Coleman is the second litigator to exit the LB100 firm’s disputes practice this year, following the resignation of Kambiz Larizadeh who is moving to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Hogan Lovells has also solidified its global practice with the hire of Marc Elvinger as a partner for the firm’s Luxembourg office. Elvinger, previously of Arendt & Medernach, has 15 years’ experience in corporate matters, M&A and transactional business law.

Elvinger, who will link up with current Luxembourg partners Gerard Neiens and Pierre Reuter, said: ‘Hogan Lovells represents a formidable opportunity for me. Corporate law is a global business and I am delighted to join a firm with global reach and genuine international capability.’

Judith Allen, formerly of A&L Goodbody, will bolster TLT’s Belfast office after her appointment on 18 January. An expert of Northern Irish property law, Allen joins as a real estate partner. TLT’s real estate group acts for a variety of clients, including BBC, EDF, WHSmith and Pets at Home.

TLT head of real estate Maria Connolly said: ‘Over the last 12 months we have seen significant growth in our real estate practice on a national scale. Having Judith on board will only further cement our expertise within this sector.’

Bryan Cave has expanded its London-based US private client team with the appointment of David Adler, who joins as a partner from McDermott Will & Emery. Adler, a specialist in advising international entities, individuals and intermediaries on US-related planning, said: ‘Bryan Cave’s private client team in London, with its impressive reputation and its focus on helping those with US interests, is a perfect fit for me. I have also been attracted by the collaborative and friendly culture at the firm.’

Kirkland & Ellis has strengthened its Shanghai office after taking Paula Liu from Clifford Chance (CC) to join as a partner. Liu, who joins from CC’s Shanghai office, specialises in M&A transactions with a particular focus on private equity.

David Zhang, senior partner of Kirkland’s Asia corporate practice group, said: ‘Paula has built a reputation as one of the leading young corporate and private equity lawyers in Shanghai.

‘She is a talented lawyer and an important addition to our Shanghai office as we look to further strengthen the firm’s China corporate practice.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk