Patrick Gearon and Georgina Munnik discuss how Bahrain has played an important role in the development of the international dispute resolution sector
With the sports sector rapidly transforming from a collection of national cottage industries into big business, Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has substantially beefed up its practice with a takeover of boutique Couchmans.
Founded in 2001 by Nic Couchman, the four-partner firm has seven other fee earners. Heavily focused on sports clients, its practice covers corporate, data protection and intellectual property. Once the combination is complete, Couchman will become head of sport at the top 50 UK law firm. The other three transferring partners are Jody MacDonald (commercial and IP), Nick White (IP) and Satish Khandke (corporate). The takeover will further position CRS in the sports field, where the firm has nine partners operating.
The high-profile boutique has handled a range of senior clients in recent years including Mo Farah (pictured), the Association of European Professional Football Leagues and Fitbit.
For CRS, the tie-up goes some way to making up for the loss of a four-partner sports law team which spun off to create the boutique Northridge last October. The founding partners of Northridge, Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen, had previously led CRS’ sports law team to tier 1 in The Legal 500.
CRS managing partner James Carter told Legal Business: ‘We see sport as a global industry and more than just sport, everything comes together in lifestyle areas. We have recently launched in Hong Kong and Dubai, so we’re well-placed. The clients and the people we work with need an international offering and a personalised offering, this tie-up achieves both of these things.’
Couchman observed: ‘The sports market has grown beyond recognition. But we are very strong on the commercial side, as well as governance and regulatory and image rights. There are huge challenges but also legal opportunities in this global industry. This next step in our development allows us to meet the needs of our clients who want sector specialist advice across the full range of legal disciplines with a global outlook.’
For the 2016/17 financial year, CRS recorded a 3% growth in revenue to £144m alongside an 8% jump in profit per equity partner.
A four-partner, top-ranked sports law team from Charles Russell Speechlys has spun off to create specialist boutique firm Northridge, while media and brands specialist Wiggin has acquired intellectual property (IP) practice Redd.
Northridge founding partners Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen, who led Charles Russell’s sports law team to tier 1 in the Legal 500, launch the new firm this morning (23 October) with a starting team comprised of 16 fee earners.
Northridge’s launch has been accelerated by an impressive pre-existing portfolio of clients including The Football Association (FA), leading Premier League football clubs, the Welsh Rugby Union and Premiership Rugby.
In addition to the listed institutions, Northridge can also count football stars Dele Alli, Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on its books.
Lynam told Legal Business that the team ‘saw an opportunity to have a firm with a specialist focus but also with the scale and experience to deal with high-profile matters in sports.’
He added: ‘We felt we had the ability to have that focus which will create a better service for clients.’
The Northridge team’s recent work has seen them act for Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri during his investment in Premier League outfit Everton Football Club, and representing the FA at the Hillsborough inquest.
The team’s loss is a heavy blow to Charles Russell Speechlys, although the firm recorded stable financial results this year with revenues rising by 3% and profit per equity partner jumping 8%. Head of the firm’s sports group, Jason Saiban, commented; ‘We wish Ian, Jon, James and Jon every success in their new endeavour. We remain committed to the sports sector and will continue to build on our 100 year-old heritage. We are excited about the sports opportunities available to us domestically and internationally, as we expand our reach into new markets such as South East Asia.’
Meanwhile, Redd is set to combine with Wiggin on 6 November after the firms announced a deal today. The merged team will combine two strong IP teams, combining 20 IP specialists who will work across Wiggin’s offices.
In a statement, Wiggin chief executive John Banister commented: ‘Wiggin devised an assertive growth strategy a few years ago that was focused on our key markets – delivering innovative IP solutions is a critical component of this. Redd’s specialist approach, excellent lawyers and entrepreneurialism represents a real synergy with Wiggin and will enable us to provide a full IP offering to our clients.’
Redd, which formed in 2004 as a spin-out from legacy Jones Day UK firm Gouldens, has a client base including start-ups and multinationals across a number of sectors.
Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has revealed 3% revenue growth for the 2016/17 financial year, alongside an 8% jump in profit per equity partner (PEP) in its second full year since the merger of Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham in 2014.
CRS managing partner James Carter said last year was one of consolidation for the merged firm, while dealing with costs associated with several office openings against the backdrop of a largely flat UK market.
In light of these investments, CRS posted a modest revenue growth from £140m in 2015/16 to £144m in 2016/17. PEP, however, jumped from £393k to £426k over the last financial year.
Net profit rose 6% from £31.8m to £33.8m as the firm announced two new office openings in 2017, one in Dubai for July and a scheduledHong Kong launch in September.
Carter told Legal Business that: ‘Last year was always going to be an exceptional growth in profitability simply because of the timeline of the merger. In the first year, you have costs related to the merger, and in the second year you start to see the benefits.’
‘I also suspect, unlike a number of firms of our size, we have relatively little overseas income, so we enjoyed little benefit from the weaker pound,’ he added.
He said moderate growth was mainly attributable to its litigation and tax practices, highlighting a rise in tax work from rules which came into force in April relating to the tax benefits and status of those with permanent domicile outside the UK.
The firm opened its Dubai office on 10 July with the hire of King & Wood Mallesons disputes partner Ghassan El Daye and Jonathan Brown from UAE law firm Hadef & Partners, alongside its existing bases of Doha in Qatar and Manama in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the firm’s Hong Kong base is currently operating from a temporary office and will officially open its doors in September. For its first Asian office in Hong Kong, the firm hired Mayer Brown JSM partner Jonathan Mok to head up the practice, alongside partner Richard Grasby from Cayman Islands-headquartered Maples and Calder.
The firm has 11 hubs across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, and 165 partners and 507 lawyers. They work across charities, construction and infrastructure, energy, financial services, healthcare, private wealth, real estate, retail and leisure, sport and technology, media and communications.
Managing partner Carter and senior partner Christopher Page were this year re-elected to the CRS management team for another three years. Carter and Page began their second three-year term in May after the pair ran unopposed in the firm’s elections.
Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has opened its first Asian office in Hong Kong, with the hire of two lateral partners to form a new team, days ahead of a new Dubai office launch.
The office, due to open on 10 July, precedes by four days the firm’s Dubai office opening. The new Middle East office is based on the hire of disputes partners Ghassan El Daye from King & Wood Mallesons and Jonathan Brown from UAE law firm Hadef & Partners. The Dubai office gives CRS its third office in the Middle East, alongside existing bases in Bahrain and Qatar.
Former Mayer Brown JSM partner Jonathan Mok joins the firm to head up CRS Hong Kong, alongside partner Richard Grasby, who joins from Cayman Islands-headquartered Maples and Calder. There he was Asia head of trusts and private wealth.
Mok, who is admitted to practice in England & Wales, Hong Kong, and Australia, covers all areas of family disputes and focuses on high-profile matrimonial, asset-tracing and criminal litigation.
Grasby was formerly at Maples in both its Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands offices. He advises institutional trustees and private individuals on all areas of trust law and related private client issues.
London-based financial service regulation and funds partner Ashley King Christopher will relocate to Hong Kong to join the new partners and add strength to the new office.
CRS managing partner James Carter (pictured) said the move into Hong Kong fits with the firm’s international expansion strategy.
He added the firm will gain ‘direct access to clients and intermediaries in five of the world’s top ten private wealth centres’ with the new office opening.
This will further extend the firm’s ‘ability to support the world’s leading creators and owners of private wealth, their families and enterprises across the full spectrum of business and personal needs.’
The new office now brings CRS’s office headcount to 12 with hubs across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. CRS currently has 167 partners and 443 lawyers working across charities, construction and infrastructure, energy, financial services, healthcare, private wealth, real estate, retail and leisure, sport and technology, media and communications.
Managing partner James Carter and senior partner Christopher Page were this year re-elected to the CRS management team for another three years. Carter and Page began their second three-year term in May after the pair ran unopposed in the firm’s elections.
Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has made up four partners worldwide in a significantly smaller promotions round, while Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) promoted four in London, two thirds of whom are women, in a round of six.
BLP promoted about a quarter of last year’s round when it made up 17. Of this year’s four promotions, half were in London, one in Frankfurt and one in Moscow.
The two partners promoted in the City, Patrick Johnson and Gareth Stringer, are joining the corporate and real estate practices respectively. Philippe Kamarowsky also joins the finance practice in Frankfurt, while Vitaly Dianov joins litigation and corporate risk in Moscow.
BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew (pictured) said: ‘2017 has produced four outstanding lawyers worthy of their promotions. Those joining our partnership will be role models and encourage others to progress their careers at our firm.’
Meanwhile, CRS also promoted six to partner. Helen Hutton and Naomi Nettleton joined the real estate practice, Paul Arathoon joined in business services, Sakhjit Randhawa in private propertly, while Rupa Lakha and Michael O’Connor joined in construction.
CRS senior partner Christopher Page said: ‘These promotions are a reward for hard work, quality skills, top service to our clients and considerable contribution to enhancing the values and reputation of the firm. Our hard work and dedicated focus on diversity is paying dividends, with two thirds of those promoted being female.’
The new appointments are effective 1 May.
Other firms to release their partner promotions this month include Herbert Smith Freehills promoting 21 globally across eight offices, with 12 based in the UK and EMEA, as Allen & Overy made up 10 partners in London in an increased global round of 24.
Meanwhile, Addleshaw Goddard saw a sharp drop in the number of associates being made up, from 15 last year to five5 in this year’s round, and a further drop from the 18 promoted in 2015.
The full list of partner promotions is as follows:
Patrick Johnson, London, corporate
Gareth Stringer, London, real estate
Philippe Kamarowsky, Frankfurt, finance
Vitaly Dianov, Moscow, litigation and corporate risk
Paul Arathoon, London, business services
Helen Hutton, London, real estate
Naomi Nettleton, London, real estate
Rupa Lakha, London, construction
Michael O’Connor, London, construction
Sakhjit Randhawa, London, private property
Managing partner James Carter and senior partner Christopher Page have been re-elected as Charles Russell Speechlys‘ management team for another three years.
Carter and Page will begin their second three-year term in May 2017 after the pair ran unopposed in the firm’s elections.
With Page the former senior partner of Charles Russell and Carter Speechly Bircham’s managing partner, the two led their legacy firms through its merger in 2014 to create a 170 partner firm with combined revenues of £135m.
As part of the merger, both Carter and Page led Speechly Bircham’s move into Charles Russell’s London offices on Fleet Place from its previous home on New Street Square.
The firm’s profits per equity partner (PEP) rose by an impressive 31% to £427,000 in its second set of financials post-merger for the 2015/16 financial year after posting a PEP of £325,000 the year previous before merger-related adjustments. Revenues also increased by 4%, with a boost of $5m to £140m.
Deputy senior partner Keir Gordon said: ‘James and Christopher have shown exceptional commitment to the firm over the past two and a half years leading us successfully through the merger and setting a clear strategy for the firm to move forward with. We have continued to meet the strategic and financial goals we set ourselves at the time of the merger, which is a testament to their strong leadership.’
In June this year, the firm appointed three new partners to its Geneva office, with plans to grow its European offering further.
Top 50 Legal Business 100 firms Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) and Trowers & Hamlins have posted mixed results this reporting season, with the former recording a 21% rise in profit per equity partner (PEP) and the latter seeing partner profits fall 7%.
In its first full set of results post-merger, CRS has increased its revenue from £134.5m to £140m, up 4% from 2014/15. Net profit at the firm was up from £25.9m to £31.8m while PEP rose to £393,000 from £325,000, an increase of more than 20%.
The private wealth-focused firm said it had made progress integrating the business following the 2014 merger of Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell, completing its consolidation of all London-based staff at its Fleet Place offices. The firm also expanded its Geneva office with during the year, with three lateral hires which could offer both English and Swiss law advice.
CRS managing partner James Carter said: ‘Whilst the result of the referendum will have an impact on business confidence and the legal market, we are fortunate to have a very broad-based practice which means that we continue to be well positioned to unlock opportunities and benefits for our clients and for our people.’
While Trowers & Hamlins posted total revenues of £85.6m from £79.4m the year before, an 8% increase, PEP at the firm has fallen by 8% to £310,000 from £336,000 the year prior.
The firm’s topline benefited from a combination with Devon-based Stones Solicitors, which it announced in September 2015. Stone Solicitors had an annual turnover of about £5m and had a practice which covered litigation private wealth, real estate, company commercial, and employment.
Trowers & Hamlins has been investing in its UK regional presence in recent years, launching a new Birmingham office in 2011, taking on more office space in Exeter in 2014 and expanding its Manchester office earlier this year.
In its continued bid to strengthen its presence in the Swiss private wealth market, Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has appointed three new partners to its Geneva office, with plans to grow its offices further.
Olivier Cavadini, Bruno Ledrappier and Grégoire Uldry – all of whom are able to offer both English and Swiss legal advice – join the firm’s current three English-qualified partners in its Geneva office. The offices are able to handle private client and tax advice as well as Swiss commercial transactions and disputes.
Having practised in Geneva for more than 15 years, Cavadini joins from Python & Peter as partner. Cavadini specialises commercial and corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, financial services and immigration.
The firm has also attracted Ledrappier and Uldry to the firm from Borel & Barbey. Ledrappier has spent the last two decades working in Geneva on litigation in civil and criminal law, with a particular focus on asset tracing, fraud and international judicial assistance. Uldry has spent 16 years in the city, specialising in international relocation, cross-border wealth and estate planning, philanthropy and commercial law for family-owned businesses.
Managing partner James Carter told Legal Business: ‘We’ve already got an established English law practice in both Geneva and Zurich. The partners out there, when they talked around the market working with lawyers and clients, it became clear that there was an opportunity out there to do something that was slightly different to what was on offer from the other law firms in Switzerland,’
He added: ‘Already having an established practice and then knowing the three individuals, all of whom we’ve worked with as a firm in the past, meant that was an opportunity that came together.’
With plans to strengthen both its Geneva and Zurich offices, Carter added: ‘When it all settles down there will no doubt be other specific, more specialist services that we will find that clients want from us and then we may add on to that. In a way it’s similar to what we did in Paris. We started off with a core group of partners and since then we’ve added on specialist employment advice.’
Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham’s merger early last year pushed CRS into the LB100 top 30, with its creation of a 530-lawyer practice with revenues of £134.5m, slightly ahead of the legacy firms’ combined income for 2013/14.
With its 2016 round promotions as its largest ever, Stephenson Harwood has made hires across its London, Paris, Hong Kong, Piraeus and Dubai offices, with three finance partners, two corporate partners making up five of the nine promotions. The firm has also appointed two marine and international trade local partners in their Hong Kong office. The nine promotions boost the number of partners the firm has hired to 12 during the 2015/16 financial year.
Last year the firm had promoted five all in London, across three practice areas with its marine and international trade, commercial litigation and finance groups.
Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sharon White said it was ‘particularly heartening’ to be announcing the firm’s highest number of internal partner promotions.
Charles Russell Speechlys has also promoted nine, hiring three in Guilford and the rest in London.
The promotion round is the second since the Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham merger in 2014, creating a firm with 170 partners, a total of 500 lawyers, and combined revenues of £135m.
Last year the firm had made up five lawyers, across its private client, real estate, corporate, restructuring and commercial practices.
Senior partner Christopher Page said: ‘they are all outstanding practitioners in their fields and a credit to the firm, exemplifying our values. The breath of talent that we’re promoting this year, including 14 who have been with us throughout their careers since they were trainees, reflects our greatest strength as a business: our people. We have never lost sight of the fact that it is the quality and dedication to client service of our people that drives our continued success.’
Stephenson Harwood partner promotions in full:
Graeme Barton, corporate (projects and infrastructure), London
Anthony Chan, corporate, Hong Kong
Roy Chan, finance, Hong Kong
Nicolas Demigneux, commercial litigation, Paris
Rob Jacob, intellectual property, London
Kiersten Lucas, employment, London
Dora Mace-Kokota, finance, London
John Meehan, tax, London
Chris Vartzis, finance, Piraeus
Charles Russell Speechly partner promotions in full:
Jamie Cartwright, litigation dispute resolution, Guildford
David Coates, corporate, London
Thomas Duggins, family, London
James Eighteen, litigation dispute resolution, London
Martin Griffiths, corporate tax, London
William Marriott, private property, Guildford
Tamasin Perkins, contentious trusts and estates, London
Ben Smith, employment, Guildford
Nicola Thorpe, private client, London