Legal Business

Tech sector 100% growth leads to double-digit revenue boost at Burges Salmon

Burges Salmon had its core sector groups to thank as it today (27 September) unveiled a robust 10% uptick in turnover from £108.7m to £119.2m.  

It marks a significant speeding of growth, after last year revenues grew by 4% from £104.9m to £108.7m.  

Profitability figures were less flattering, with operating profit up by 5% while profit per equity partner (PEP) inched upwards 1% from £512k to £517k. However these figures are more favourable when factoring in the firm’s significant investments over the last year – since May 2021 Burges Salmon has appointed 15 new partners, causing overall equity partnership numbers to swell from 71 to 73. 

This included a record round of partner promotions in March, which saw ten associates made up.  

Managing partner Roger Bull hailed the impact of the firm’s sector specialisms and key practice areas on the successful results. He told Legal Business: ‘One of our key areas of investment has been tech, and as such we made up four of our new partners in that area. That saw a really significant increase in the last 12 months, roughly 100% growth.’

Bull further revealed that the financial services sector boosted revenue by 20%, real estate by the same margin, while its defence sector saw 30% growth. On the practice front, Bull said that the firm’s corporate practice benefitted from a transactional boom this year and increased turnover by 20%. 

In terms of highlights from the year, in May the firm marked the three-year anniversary of its Edinburgh office. The office has doubled its partner count since inception, from three in 2019 to six now, as part of a 45-strong team. Such was the headcount growth, during the summer Burges Salmon revealed it had taken out 3,000 sq ft of additional space in the Atria One in the Scottish capital.  

Bull concluded: ‘As it stands, transactional markets remain good. Most law firm leaders have their eyes open and are aware of uncertainty but the firm is still performing strongly. The feedback I get from partners is that we have a good strong pipeline, and combined with our strong reputation in the market, we maintain a positive outlook.’ 

Legal Business

Burges Salmon rides out Covid crisis to break £100m revenue threshold

Burges Salmon has become the latest firm to defy market uncertainty in the face of the coronavirus pandemic as it posted double-digit revenue growth to pass the £100m turnover milestone for the first time.

A strong set of 2019/20 results for the Bristol-based firm saw revenue grow 11% from £94.6m to £104.9m as operating profit increased by a comparable 11%. Also, the firm’s reporting period runs until the end of April, encompassing some six weeks of the Covid-19 lockdown and fallout.  

However, profit per equity partner (PEP) was more subdued, rising only 1% from £443,000 the previous year to £446,000, thanks to a substantial uptick in the number of equity partners at the firm.

Speaking to Legal Business, managing partner Roger Bull was suitably ebullient about Burges Salmon’s financial position and how it has adapted to remote working. ‘We have invested in technology and have had agile working for several years, so people were used to working from home anyway. There was a bit of catching up on the business services side with things like billing remotely, but within two weeks of lockdown that had been ironed out.’

He also emphasised the firm’s continued investment in new partners, having promoted five lawyers to partner in 2019 and made six promotions this year, not to mention hiring banking partner Stuart McMillan from DLA Piper to its newly established Edinburgh office last October.

‘There was no freeze in recruitment so we have had to integrate people, including a new cohort of trainees, remotely,’ said Bull. ‘We had been having hybrid meetings, which were a combination of people being in the room and other dialling in remotely, but now following the government’s advice we will all be working from home again unless it’s absolutely essential.’

Burges Salmon is two years into a three-year growth strategy, which Bull said is working well but has become subject to review, given the unforeseen market challenges of 2020.

Said Bull: ‘We thought about extending the three-year strategy in light of coronavirus but in the last few months decided instead on a strategy renewal to start in May next year.’

There are three key elements to the firm’s strategy: growing core sectors including energy, private wealth, healthcare, transport and infrastructure and core practices of corporate, projects and litigation; the preferred firm network in the US and Europe; and expanding the UK business in the form of the new Edinburgh office. The Scottish office now boasts 20 lawyers, including five partners, with plans to grow further.

Said Bull: ‘Referral work has led to revenue more than doubling in the last two years. The US is the largest market for referrals, followed by Europe, especially Germany, then France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Our UK coverage has been enhanced with our Edinburgh office. It has been a successful enterprise and a part of our revenue success.’

In spite of uncertainty of how the pandemic will play out, Bull concluded on an optimistic note: ‘Having had a strong last year, not carrying external debt, strong cash flows and resilient sectors all put us in a strong position to withstand a downturn. We need to stay client-focused and market-aligned. We need to get through Covid, work with clients and look after our people.’

Legal Business

Revolving doors: McDermott hires Hogan Lovells private equity head as Dechert loses partners in London and Paris

The lateral market maintained momentum last week as McDermott Will & Emery hired from Hogan Lovells with both Addleshaw Goddard and Paul Hastings targeting Dechert.

McDermott added Hogan Lovells’ global private equity head Tom Whelan. Whelan, who is experienced in private equity life cycle, has worked with private equity sponsors, multi strategy funds and corporates. His work includes advising on buyouts, M&A, bolt-ons, restructurings and refinancings through to exits.

Hamid Yunis, McDermott’s London managing partner told Legal Business: ‘We are always looking to build upon the strong practices which we have in London and to add top quality lawyers who are equally focused on providing world class client service.’

Addleshaws has hired restructuring partner Paul Fleming who joins the London business support and restructuring insolvency practice from Dechert.

Fleming has been involved in cross-border work, both in restructuring and contentious insolvency matters and advises creditors including institutional lenders and bondholders, stakeholders, insolvency practitioners and directors.

Partner and head of business support and restructuring, Ged Barnes commented: ‘This is the start of an ambitious strategy for the team which will help us to capitalise on our international offices.  Paul’s expertise in cross border insolvencies, funds recovery work and complex, high value insolvency litigation is a great fit with our existing practice.’

Meanwhile, Burges Salmon hired partner Stuart McMillan to its banking team from DLA Piper. He has worked in energy and infrastructure finance and advised banks and borrowers on project finance, acquisition finance and real estate finance deals involving cross-border financing. He will help develop the general Scottish banking practice as well as the firm’s infrastructure, real estate and energy offering.

Burges Salmon managing partner, Roger Bull told Legal Business: ‘Stuart is extremely high quality with a great reputation in the market. From our perspective, he’s got great experience in relation to finance and projects along with some of the other sectors that we’ve been focusing on like energy and renewables. He has those particular skills that will assist and drive our client offer forward in Edinburgh.

‘Banking is performing well. We’re having strong performance across the firm so far this financial year. The banking team are ever expanding their remit, expertise and focus which is very much aligned with Stuart’s appointment,’ added Bull.

Elsewhere, Fieldfisher has hired Paul Stockley as its new co-head of oil and gas. He joins the energy and natural resources group in London from Womble Bond Dickinson where he was head of oil and gas.

Stockley said: ‘The firm’s reputation for all forms of energy and natural resources work is already well-established across the industry and I am encouraged by its ambitious plans for future growth. I look forward to being a part of those plans, leveraging off a tremendous brand and platform.’

Paul Hastings has added to its Paris office with the hire of corporate partner Charles Cardon from Dechert. He has a focus on takeovers, M&A, private equity, and capital markets transactions.

Cardon advises public companies in their takeover bids, issuance of securities, governance matters, disclosure requirements and relationship with shareholders, as well as corporate law matters.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Alston & Bird has added senior privacy and cybersecurity partner Wim Nauwelaerts from Sidley Austin.

Privacy and cybersecurity co-chair Jim Harvey commented: ‘Privacy and cybersecurity continue to be increasingly critical issues for CEOs and boards, especially among US-based multinationals that view data protection as a global issue.

‘Wim is an internationally recognised attorney in the EU privacy and cybersecurity arena with a well-earned reputation as a trusted voice in advising senior executives in the US, Europe, and elsewhere on strategic business decisions and initiatives involving their companies’ most valuable data assets,’ Harvey added.

Legal Business

Burges Salmon expands offering with opening in ‘buoyant’ Scottish market

Bristol-headquartered Burges Salmon  is launching in Edinburgh with a trio of partner hires from Scotland’s leading independent law firms.

The top-50 UK law firm is opening the office in May with eight lawyers, led by the lateral hires of Shepherd and Wedderburn corporate finance partner Danny Lee, Brodies real estate partner Robert Forman, and Burness Paull planning partner Craig Whelton, who has previously worked at Burges Salmon.

They will be joined by Shepherd and Wedderburn corporate director Joanna Monaghan, Burness Paull senior real estate director Claire MacLean and planning solicitor Lynsey Reid. Burges Salmon real estate associates Lynette Purves and Emma Shearer will relocate from the firm’s Bristol office.

Burges Salmon managing partner Roger Bull told Legal Business the firm had identified the Scottish market as part of a new three-year strategy approved by the partnership last April. The firm already has a Scottish practice that operates from Bristol – a 20-lawyer team led by partner Euan Bremner – with clients including The Financial Services Compensation Scheme, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds, EDF Renewables and Waitrose.

Bull said its energy, financial services, infrastructure, real estate and public sector sectors all had client bases in Scotland, or opportunities for growth.

‘One of the key aspects that came out of our new strategy was having a UK-wide ability to service our client base,’ Bull said. ‘Our market research and talking to clients gave us the sense that in our key sectors, activity is pretty buoyant in Scotland.’

Bull added that the firm would look to expand its Scottish presence over the next couple of years but was yet to go to the market for further hires. There were no plans to open elsewhere at this stage.

‘Bristol, London and Edinburgh provides good triangulation in terms of coverage, so we’re looking at how we maximise opportunities coming from that structure.’

Bull became managing partner in May last year, replacing Peter Morris. Morris had been in the role since 2010, while Bull has been a partner at the firm since 2003, and previously served as head of employment.

Revenue at Burges Salmon rose 3% to £90m for the 2017/18 financial year, after being flat the previous period. However, turnover has grown more than 20% over the last five years.

Overall profit rose 2%, following an 8% dip last year, but PEP dropped to £430,000 from £435,000, following a more dramatic fall from £525,000 the year previous. The firm, which had 64 equity partners last year, has grown its partnership around 10% in the past three years.

Legal Business

Burges Salmon cautious over challenging market as PEP dips against modest revenue growth

A ‘challenging market’ led to sluggish revenue growth at Burges Salmon  for the last financial year, while profit per equity partner (PEP) dipped for the second year in a row.

Revenue at the Bristol-headquartered firm rose 3% to £90m for the 2017/18, after being flat the previous period. However, turnover has grown more than 20% over the last five years.

Overall profit rose 2%, following an 8% dip last year, but PEP dropped to £430,000 from £435,000, following a more dramatic fall from £525,000 the year previous. The firm, which had 64 equity partners last year, has grown its partnership around 10% in the past three years.

Burges Salmon announced a new managing partner in January, with head of employment Roger Bull replacing Peter Morris from May. Morris had been in the role since 2010, while Bull has been a partner at the firm since 2003.

Bull said he was pleased the firm had returned to growth as it invested in its future. At the start of the previous financial year it had brought in a new strategy that narrowed its sector expertise into the seven areas of transport, infrastructure, private wealth, real estate, energy, financial services and the public sector.

He commented: ‘With our focus on the UK, continuing political and economic uncertainty continues to make this a challenging market, but we have seen significant growth in many of our key sectors and specialisms over the past 12 months.’

He added: ‘The investments that we have made in our people, infrastructure, and advanced technology allow us to build on our market-leading sector and specialist expertise and ensure that we carry on providing our clients with the highest levels of service.’

Legal Business

Management moves: succession planning in train at Burges Salmon and Fladgate 

Two senior figures at Legal Business 100 firms Burges Salmon and Fladgate will see their tenures come to an end in the coming months as the firms announce a new managing partner and chairman respectively.

Bristol-headquartered Burges Salmon has appointed head of employment Roger Bull its new managing partner, replacing Peter Morris, effective from May.

Bull (pictured, left) joined Burges Salmon in 1995 and has been a partner since 2003, as well as a member of its executive committee between 2009 and 2011.

He has been head of the firm’s employment team since 2011 and will maintain responsibility for some key client relationships in his new role, although partner Adrian Martin is to take over as head of that team.

Bull succeeds the incumbent Morris (pictured, right) who has been managing partner since 2010 and will remain at the firm to assist with the transition.

Morris said Bull and senior partner Chris Seaton (who was appointed to replace Alan Barr almost a year ago) would make a strong management team: ‘I am confident that Burges Salmon will continue to prosper in their safe hands’.

Typically a strong performer financially with robust profitability, the firm’s bottom line last year fell for the first time in six years, dropping 8% on flat revenues, which it attributed to the impact of Brexit. Profit per equity partner (PEP) also fell to £435,000 from the previous year’s £525,000.

Elsewhere one of the LB100’s strongest-performing firms in recent years, Fladgate, has elected Richard Reuben to replace Charles Wander as its new chair, effective from April.

Wander had been chairman of West End-based Fladgate – a firm which has seen its revenue nearly double to £49.2m in the past decade – since 2011. Reuben, who was the firm’s head of real estate, will be replaced in that role by Stephen Lewis.

Reuben said Wander, who will stay on as a consultant practising in the corporate group, had made an enormous contribution to the firm. Fladgate’s goal for 2020 was to add another 40% to its turnover to take it to between £65m and £70m.

He added: ‘As Fladgate looks to the future, our intention is to build on the financial strength of the business by attracting the highest quality talent that will enable us to continue to deliver success on a consistent basis for the benefit of future generations of partners and employees.’

Yesterday (8 January), the firm also appointed former Gordon Dadds partner Jan Hoppe to its corporate and German team, to advise on M&A matters with a cross-border focus.

Legal Business

Financials 2016/17: Expansive Burges Salmon cites Brexit impact as revenue and PEP growth halted

UK firm Burges Salmon’s profitability fell 8% in the year to 30 April for the first time in six years, which the firm attributed to the negative impact of Brexit on its business in a challenging year.

This year, the Bristol-headquartered firm’s revenue stayed at £87m, slightly down from last year’s £87.4m.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) also dropped to £435,000 from last year’s £525,000.

Managing partner Peter Morris told Legal Business that the drop in profitability came as the firm ‘didn’t have the revenue growth we had planned for’. This was due to the fact ‘we experienced a lower level of work in the first half of the year, probably Brexit-related.’

‘Our work levels then returned to grow across all practice areas, peaking in the fourth quarter’, Morris said.

In contrast, revenue and profits both increased by 8% and 9% respectively in 2015/16, and at the time the firm had grown 32% consistently since 2011.

The firm, which counts 434 lawyers and 88 partners across its two offices located in Bristol and London, announced a new strategy at the start of the financial year, narrowing its sector expertise onto seven areas: transport, infrastructure, private wealth, real estate, energy, financial services and the public sector.

Morris described the strategy as successful: ‘It helped us address clients’ needs in a more focused way. A good example is probably the infrastructure area, which is very topical at the moment.’

The firm said it was focused on the medium to long-term outlook, resulting in three internal promotions to the partnership and two lateral hires.

During the year, Burges was appointed to tier one of the government’s £400m Crown Commercial Service General Legal Services panel.

Burges also acted for John Lewis Partnership, on whose panel the firm sits since 2015.The firm also worked for a number of governments and public bodies, including the Cayman Islands and the British ministry of defence, along with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and HSBC. Other clients were Premier Asset Management, Virgin Active, BEIS, M&S and Ascent.

Employment partner Chris Seaton step in as new senior partner on 1 May succeeding corporate partner Alan Barr after six years. Morris said the new senior partner, who joined the firm in 1991 and was part of its partnership committee since 2011 will bring forward the firm’s new strategy.

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Drastically reduced round for Addleshaws as Burges Salmon makes up trio

Addleshaw Goddard and Burges Salmon have announced their latest partner promotions, with Addleshaws seeing a sharp drop in the number of associates being made up from last year.

Last year, Addleshaws promoted 15 lawyers to partner, but this year the firm only made up five. The firm’s corporate and commercial division has gained additions with the promotions of Will Chalk and Oman-based Oliver Stevens while James Davison has been promoted in Addleshaws’ business support and restructuring group. Peter Mason and Hemal Kotecha have been made up in real estate. Last year’s round was a reduction on the 18 promoted in 2015.

Addleshaws managing partner John Joyce commented: ‘It is always a pleasure to recognise the achievements of individuals operating across the firm and we are thrilled to be able to promote these talented lawyers to partnership.

Joyce (pictured) added: ‘Each individual has demonstrated a strong track record of success and will continue to deliver great value to our clients.’

Meanwhile, Burges Salmon has also made three promotions in its latest round, one fewer than last year when the firm promoted four.

Emma Folkes, who joined the firm in 2007 is made up in real estate, while Ian Tucker and Michael Ward have been promoted in disputes.

Burges Salmon managing partner Peter Morris said: ‘We are delighted to welcome these excellent lawyers to the partnership. We have a unique model and collaborative culture at Burges Salmon, and we look forward to seeing all of our new partners thrive in this environment.’

Partner promotions in full:

Addleshaw Goddard

Will Chalk, corporate, UK

Oliver Stevens, corporate, Oman

James Davison, business support and restructuring, UK

Peter Mason, real estate, UK

Hemal Kotecha, real estate, UK

Burges Salmon

Emma Folkes, real estate, Bristol

Ian Tucker, dispute resolution, Bristol

Michael Ward, dispute resolution, Bristol


Legal Business

Regional leader Burges Salmon appoints new senior partner as Barr steps down after six years

Burges Salmon has appointed employment partner Chris Seaton as senior partner, taking over the role from Alan Barr, who has served as senior partner of the firm for the last six years.

Seaton will take over the role on 1 May for a four year term and will continue in his client-facing role as a partner in the firm’s employment team where he acts for a large number of multinational clients and coordinates employment advice across a wide range of jurisdictions.

Seaton takes over from current incumbent Barr, who served and extended six-year term as senior partner.

Speaking to Legal Business, Seaton said it was too early to provide detail on his plans as senior partner of the firm: ‘I am looking to continue the very successful strategy that we have in play and Alan had done a great job and I am looking to continue that. Obviously when I am in the role I will be planning to put my footprint on it, but it is still the appointment stage.’

Peter Morris, Burges Salmon’s managing partner added: ‘Chris brings to his new role an excellent track record as a client partner and the firm’s lead on international work and relationships.’

Top-50 UK firm Burges Salmon maintained a sixth year of growth for the financial year 2015/16, increasing turnover 8% to £87.4m, from £80.8m in 2014/15.

The firm also lifted profit per equity partner by 7%, up to £525,000, in the financial year ending 30 April. The increase saw PEP break the £500,000 mark, after it grew 11% the previous year to £485,000.

The growth followed the firm announcing a new strategy in 2016, narrowing its sector expertise onto seven clear areas: transport, infrastructure, private wealth, real estate, energy, financial services and the public sector.

In January the firm took on funds partner Jeremy Bell from Ashurst. Bell has experience advising on the structuring and formation of private investment funds across the alternative asset classes as well as advising on investment into funds.

Legal Business

‘A different weight class’: Ashurst exits resume as Pinsents and Burges Salmon hire a partner each

Despite seeming to plug a run of partner exits late last year, Ashurst has lost two partners, with Pinsent Masons and Burges Salmon each picking up new hires.

Corporate insurance partner Hammad Akhtar is to join Pinsent Masons as the head of its corporate offering within the financial sector. Akhtar advises clients in the insurance, retail banking and private banking sectors on a broad range of transactions including disposals, acquisitions and reorganisations. Akhtar moved to Ashurst four years ago from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was made up to partner in 2010.

Pinsents head of financial services Alexis Roberts said: ‘Hammad is someone whom we have admired for a long time with an established reputation in the City. He will add strength and depth to our corporate capability and complement the existing corporate financial services practice built up by Hannah Brader over recent years. We anticipate that Hammad’s arrival, combined with our proven track record in this area, will move us into a different weight class with respect to transactional work across the financial services sector.’

Meanwhile, Burges Salmon has taken on funds partner Jeremy Bell who has experience advising on the structuring and formation of private investment funds across the alternative asset classes as well as advising on investment into funds.

An Ashurst spokesperson said Bell was ‘leaving for family reasons and will be relocating to Bristol’. She added: ‘We wish him the very best for the future and thank him for his role in helping to establish our well diversified international investment funds practice.’

In December Ashurst hired Milan based partner Paolo Manganelli to head up the office’s restructuring team. He joined from Paul Hastings where he had been since 2014.

The firm also found a replacement chief financial and operations officer with UKTV’s Jan Gooze-Zijl stepping into the role, it emerged in November. Gooze-Zijl, who joined UKTV in 2010, will join Ashurst in February taking up a position on the firm’s executive committee as well as its management board.

The firm voted through changes to its remuneration system in August last following a flood of partner exits and its second revenue dip following its merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson in 2013.

Financial year 2015/16 revenue dropped by £28m to £505m, while profits per equity partner fell by 19%, down to £603,000 from £747,000 during the 2015/16 financial year.

Read more: ‘Comment: Looking forward to Ashurst’s decline – The outlook worsens for a proud City institution’