Legal Business

Revolving doors: Pinsents and Irwin Mitchell both hire from CRS as Gateley brings in two new partners

Revolving doors: Pinsents and Irwin Mitchell both hire from CRS as Gateley brings in two new partners

With the summer break fast approaching, there was a flurry in the lateral market among law firms last week as they looked to sign off key appointments. Pinsent Masons and Irwin Mitchell both turned to Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) partners for strategic appointments while Gateley made two laterals.

Pinsents hired CRS’ financial services practice head Elizabeth Budd to bolster its financial regulatory group as the firm targeted banking, insurance and asset management work in the City.

Budd specialises in advising asset and fund managers on the evolving regulatory landscape in both the UK and the EU. On the funds side she has established funds structured as unit trusts, open ended investment companies and limited partnerships both onshore and offshore. She has also advised asset managers regarding the Financial Conduct Authority’s increased supervision and enforcement action as well as regulatory changes.

The hire follows the firm’s recruitment of David Heffron from Addleshaw Goddard to lead its financial regulation group earlier this year. John Salmon, head of financial services at Pinsents, said: ‘We continue to see a high level of demand for regulatory advice from our clients in the banking, insurance and asset management sectors and are investing in our City-based team accordingly. The appointment of David and Elizabeth in quick succession is a real signal of intent – our clients value our innovative approach allied to significant sector knowledge. Pinsent Masons’ vision is to become an international market-leader in the sectors in which we operate, and this appointment moves us forward a significant step in the financial services arena.’

Irwin Mitchell also found CRS a productive hunting ground – hiring partner Penny Cogher. Joining the pensions team, which has grown to four partners with the addition of Martin Jenkins in the City to head the team in December 2014 and Andrew Ashley Taylor in Manchester in May this year, Cogher comes with 23-years’ experience in the field.

Having primarily advised charities and not-for-profit bodies, she advises on regulation, compliance, risk management, funding disputes, public sector outsourcing, and use of contingent asset arrangements. On defined contribution schemes, she advises on governance, the newly introduced 2015/2016 flexibilities, life assurance and on tax for high net worth individuals.

Niall Baker, partner and chief executive at Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘Penny is the tenth partner to join our Business Legal Services side of the firm since the start of 2015, showing our commitment to building our business expertise and attracting high-calibre lawyers. Our pensions department is going from strength to strength. Pensions are a key concern for our clients in an ever changing legislative environment. We are delighted to have someone of Penny’s experience and reputation joining the firm. We remain committed to investing in the growth of our business team further.’

Meanwhile, Gateley has made two appointments. The national firm hired two partners to boost its litigation and employment. Benedict Gorner joins the firm from DLA Piper, where he made partner having joined the global firm from Eversheds in 2002. Gorner covers a broad range of employment law covering all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work with a particular specialism in TUPE and change management programmes. Three-office Watson Burton also lost the head of its commercial litigation practice, Andrew Johnson, to the publicly-listed law firm. Johnson has previously acted for a range of companies including Bellway, Microsoft, Colas and the University of Leicester. Gateley also appointed a new director of Client and Market Development, Fiona Holland, from PwC.

Meanwhile, also on the national scene was Bevan Brittan’s move on Andrew Shaw at TLT. The property partner joined the firm with a specialism in social housing, though the exit from TLT’s social housing team was partially offset by the firm’s hire of Lewis Silkin’s real estate specialist Linda Convery and social housing partner Gillian Bastow.

Jonathan Turner, head of housing at Bevan Brittan, commented: ‘The housing sector is facing a number of challenges with changes to Right to Buy and Welfare Reform looming. The impact of these policy changes on Registered Provider development programmes could be significant at a time when there is growing pressure on housing stock numbers. Organisations need to ensure that they are structuring their portfolios effectively and, where appropriate, maximising development delivery through exploring new cross-sector partnership models between Registered Providers, Local Authorities and Health Trusts. Andrew will be an important addition to our team.’

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Charles Russell Speechlys unveils first financials post-merger as Withers sees 9% rise in revenue

Charles Russell Speechlys unveils first financials post-merger as Withers sees 9% rise in revenue

On the back of speedy internationalisation plans in recent months, private client firm Withers has posted an 8.7% increase in revenues to £134m from £123m for the 2014/15 financial year while Charles Russell Speechlys has recorded combined revenues of £135m in its first financials post-merger.

Withers, having expanded extensively this past year, saw net profit rise marginally up 2% to £23m, while with expanded partnership ranks the firm’s profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped from £376,000 to £367,000.

Most recently, the firm launched a Tokyo tax practice – Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin (Withers Japan) – in June, and hired Morrison & Foerster’s Singapore-based Eric Roose to head up its regional corporate tax practice. That same month, the firm launched three new offices in the US with the hire of a nine-partner team – the majority of which come from McKenna Long & Aldridge.

The firm also boosted its corporate, litigation and IP law capabilities in the US with the hire of an 11-strong team in April. This came after the firm launched a presence in Australia, creating Withers SBL through an alliance, in December 2014.

Managing director Margaret Robertson (pictured) said: ‘We have enjoyed strong revenue growth in 2014-15, driven by our focus on the global needs of successful people. Whilst our gross profit has also shown a healthy increase of 10%, our lower PEP reflects the increase in our partnership, which grew by more than one third in the last seven weeks of our financial year and, although they have already made a strong contribution, this distorts the annualised numbers.’

Having merged in November 2014 and creating a private wealth powerhouse, revenues at Charles Russell Speechlys for the year ending 30 April 2015 stood at £135m, while net profit came in at £26m. The firm said this was despite the impact of merger related costs and a significant investment programme in its IT systems following the union.

Average PEP, before merger-related adjustments, was £320,000 – in line with the legacy PEP of Speechly Bircham which stood at £319,000 in its final year before merging while Charles Russell partners took home £336,000. From a financial perspective, the merger was far more one of equals than Speechly’s failed talks with Withers in 2013, where Withers’ PEP was £363,000 to Speechlys then £297,000.

The firm’s managing partner James Carter said: ‘In a year of very significant change for the firm, we have performed strongly. We set ourselves a number of goals, financial and strategic, for the three financial years following the merger and I am pleased that we are on, and in some cases ahead of, target. Nine months in, the merger is unlocking opportunities and benefits for our clients and our people.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Mounting departures: Trowers loses another partner in the Middle East as CRS hires a new construction chief

Mounting departures: Trowers loses another partner in the Middle East as CRS hires a new construction chief

Trowers & Hamlins’ former head of Bahrain construction Paula Boast has returned to Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) as its Middle East head of construction, after spending almost nine years at Trowers’ Bahrain office.

The departure comes after Trowers’ head of UAE Abdullah Mutawi, and fellow partner and international disputes resolution chief Lucas Pitts, exited the firm in March to join Baker Botts’ corporate and disputes practice in Dubai.

Boast left Trowers in February this year having joined in June 2006 as a construction and projects partner. During her tenure at Trowers, she headed the Bahrain construction team and advised on construction and procurement for developers, funders, contractors and consultants. She is also a registered mediator with the Bahrain chamber for dispute resolution. Before Trowers, she was a solicitor at legacy Charles Russell from April 2003 until June 2006.

The hire forms part of CRS’ post-merger growth plan, as the firm expands its construction practice in Bahrain. ‘Construction continues to thrive in the Middle East and we are retained on a number of transformative projects, such as the Bahrain Airport,’ said Patrick Gearon, head of CRS’ Middle East offices. ‘Bringing Paula into our already strong team supports our ongoing growth in the region bringing additional expertise for clients based here and also for those not based in the region, it brings significant additional ‘on the ground’ insight and support in response to their international legal requirements.’

Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell’s respective partnerships voted in July last year in favour of a merger that created a 500-lawyer firm with 170 partners, and combined revenues of £135m. ‘Charles Russell Speechlys is a regional leader in the construction and real estate sector,’ added Boast. ‘This is an exciting time to come back to the newly merged firm and I hope to be able to share my industry knowledge and expertise to build on our considerable success in the region.’

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Simmons makes up 13 partners in bumper round as Charles Russell Speechlys promotes five

Partner promotions: Simmons makes up 13 partners in bumper round as Charles Russell Speechlys promotes five

Continuing the trend of increased partner promotions this year, Simmons & Simmons has promoted 13 lawyers to partner in its biggest round since 2011. Meanwhile Charles Russell Speechlys made up five in its first round since its merger.

Simmons’ promotions round is much expanded on last year, when eight lawyers made the grade, with nine being made up in the City alone in 2015. By practice, the firm moved to promote lawyers servicing the finance sector with three financial markets litigators made up alongside lawyers from its financial services and financial markets teams. Also in the UK, Alistair Hill, who helped to launch the firm’s banking practice in Bristol in May 2013 when he joined from Linklaters, was made partner.

While there were three lawyers made up in continental Europe last year, the firm focused on the Middle East and Asia this time around. There was a double promotion in Hong Kong, with employment lawyer Sarah Berkeley and corporate specialist Seung Chong joining the partnership, while Dubai-based financial markets lawyer Ahmed Butt was made up after helping to launch the firm’s second office in Saudi Arabia through its alliance with Hammad & Al-Mehdar.

Simmons’ senior partner Colin Passmore, said: ‘These promotions are fully in line with the firm’s business plan and they recognise the range of talent that exists across our practice areas that has been key to our growth over the past few years. I am particularly pleased that over half of our new partners joined the firm as trainees.’

Elsewhere, Charles Russell Speechlys made up five lawyers in its first round since its merger in November. The firm promoted lawyers across its private client, real estate, corporate, restructuring and commercial practices. Christopher Page, senior partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, said: ‘The merger has made this a very busy year, but we have never lost sight of fact that it is the quality and dedication to client service of our people that drives our continued success.’

The new partners at Charles Russell Speechlys:

Sally Ashford, private client, Guildford

Suzi Gatward, real estate, London

Jonathan Morley, corporate, Cheltenham

Hanh Nguyen, corporate restructuring and insolvency, London

Jonathan Walters, commercial, London

The new partners at Simmons & Simmons:

Angus McLean, intellectual property, London

Ania Rontaler, corporate, London

Emma Sutcliffe, financial markets litigation, London

Nick Colston, financial services, London

Paul Baker, financial markets litigation, London

Robert Allen, financial markets litigation, London

Stephen Moses, litigation, London

Vicky Wickremeratne, employment, London

Nick Skerrett, tax, London

Alistair Hill, banking, Bristol

Ahmed Butt, financial markets, Dubai

Sarah Berkeley, employment, Hong Kong

Seung Chong, corporate, Hong Kong

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Private wealth is at the heart of the merger’ – Charles Russell Speechlys talks strategy

‘Private wealth is at the heart of the merger’ – Charles Russell Speechlys talks strategy

As the partnerships of both Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell this week voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of a merger that will create a firm with 170 partners, 500 lawyers and combined revenues of £135m, management at the newly-titled Charles Russell Speechlys are welcoming the prospects of becoming a top 30 UK firm.

Due to go live on 1 November, the union creates a private wealth powerhouse that Charles Russell’s senior partner Christopher Page says is ‘at the heart of the merger’.

‘We both have strong traditional tax and trust practices. But we’re trying to push private wealth which is where we are a winner – that’s where we will make sure all the divisions are covering,’ Page says.

Having begun discussions in January this year, Page and Speechlys managing partner James Carter tell Legal Business that the partnerships on either sides were always excited about the deal.

Of the pair, Charles Russell has highly-rated employment, media, sport and fraud practices, alongside private client in all its guises including a second-tier family practice. Speechly Bircham, alongside its recognised strength in both contentious trusts, personal tax and probate, has a highly-rated mid-market M&A practice.

The next 18 months will be a period of consolidation and maximising opportunities from cross-referrals. ‘It will be about getting the integration right,’ says Page.

From a financial perspective, the merger is far more one of equals that Speechly’s failed talks with Withers last year, where Withers’ PEP was £363,000 to Speechlys then £297,000.

As this week Speechly unveils its financials, preliminary figures show that revenue for the 2013/14 year was down slightly by 1.2% to £56.8m while net profit stands at £11.8m and profit per equity partner (PEP) rose 5% to £312,000.

Undoubtedly the larger of the two firms, Charles Russell also posted a more robust revenue growth of 7% to £73.4m in 2013/14, with growth across private client, real estate and a ‘storming year’ in litigation. But its PEP, up 5% in the same period, stands at £336,000 – far closer than its merger talks predecessor.

For Speechly, the PEP figure is not the rebound it had hoped after double digit partner exits saw it forecast a 25% growth in PEP this year.

Carter says: ‘Our approach last year was to set ourselves a target of maintaining fee income and net income levels but improve profitability. We didn’t achieve budget but then last year we didn’t assume to open any foreign offices, and we effectively doubled our foreign offices. Looked at in that light, we could have done nothing and just focused purely on profits or we could have taken steps to build the practice. It was a reasonable year.’

Looking ahead, both firms now have their eyes set on boosting their presence abroad. Speechly has offices in Paris, Geneva, Zurich and Luxembourg, while Charles Russell is in Geneva, Bahrain and Qatar.

‘In terms of expansion, we both have an appetite to go overseas,’ says Page. ‘Between us, we’re already covering a lot of the world – but we need the structure to be right. Our international committee will look at areas such as Singapore.’

Sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Financial results 2013/14: Speechly unveils 1% revenue drop to £56.8m with PEP up 5%

Financial results 2013/14: Speechly unveils 1% revenue drop to £56.8m with PEP up 5%

Speechly Bircham has unveiled its financial results for the 2013/14 year, with preliminary figures showing that revenue was down slightly by 1.2% to £56.8m while net profit stands at £11.8m and profit per equity partner (PEP) rose 5% to £312,000.

The results follow the announcement on Wednesday (16 July) that the top 55 UK firm has voted to tie-up with Charles Russell, creating a firm with 170 partners, 500 lawyers and combined revenues of £135m, projecting the combined Charles Russell Speechlys into the top 30 of the LB 100.

The latest financial results, which follow flat revenue in the 2012/13 and a marginal drop in PEP of 1%, have not seen the PEP rebound forecast last year, after double digit partner exits saw the City-headquartered firm forecast a 25% growth in PEP for 2013/14.

Highlights of the past year year included opening a second office in Switzerland, launching in Geneva last autumn to bolster its existing presence in Zurich. 

Speechly’s managing partner James Carter said: ‘Our approach last year was to set ourselves a target of maintaining fee income and net income levels but improve profitability. We didn’t achieve budget but then last year we didn’t assume to open any foreign offices, and we effectively doubled our foreign offices. Looked at in that light, we could have done nothing and just focused purely on profits or we could have taken steps to build the practice. It was a reasonable year.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘A compelling combination’: Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham say yes to merger

‘A compelling combination’: Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham say yes to merger

The partnerships of Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell have today (16 July) voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of a merger that will create a firm with 170 partners, a total of 500 lawyers, and combined revenues of £135m, elevating the combined entity into the top 30 of the LB100. The new firm will be called Charles Russell Speechlys.

Set to go live on 1 November, the new firm still be structured around four key divisions including business services, disputes, private client and real estate & construction. It will also have a network of offices across Europe and the Gulf’s main wealth and business centres. The firms said in a joint statement that ‘long-standing relationships and networks throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean will extend the geographical reach of the new firm.’

Adding that duplication and conflicts arising from the merger are ‘thought to be minimal’, the firm added that partner support for the merger ‘reflects a shared view of the need to achieve both scale and reach in helping clients access lucrative new markets, as well as to handle more routine work with maximum efficiency’.

This morning it was confirmed that the polls for voting on the merger had opened, with both firms required to attain a 75% majority vote in order for the merger to receive approval.

The talks were Speechlys second attempt at a union, having called off its high-profile merger talks with private client firm Withers last May after suggestions of lack of support from the partnerships.

Charles Russell senior partner Christopher Page said: ‘Our determination is to deliver enduring value for our clients by giving grounded, personal advice from all our UK offices as well as from our offices in Europe and the Gulf. We know that our clients will find our balanced and integrated expertise and experience, provided efficiently and cost-effectively, a compelling combination.’

Speechlys’ managing partner James Carter said: ‘The real work starts now. Our integration team, headed by David Green, is tasked with finding the very best elements of both firms and making them work effectively together. It will also be looking at workflow, team combinations and optimal use of office accommodation.’

We are committing to a multi-million investment in new knowledge management, business development and IT resources, together with specialised business skills training, on top of the professional development that has always been a hallmark of our two practices.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Heading to the polls: Charles Russell and Speechly partners to vote today on £126m merger

Heading to the polls: Charles Russell and Speechly partners to vote today on £126m merger

Speechly Bircham is getting closer to closing its sought-after merger, as its partners and those at Charles Russell are voting today (16 July) on a union that would elevate the combined firm into the top 30 of the LB100.

Having confirmed the talks in mid-February, a statement is expected later today on the outcome of the vote. The firms are required to have a 75% majority vote in order for the merger to receive approval. If the deal is approved, it will create revenues of £126m and a total lawyer headcount of 531.

The firms have already published a certificate of incorporation for a new entity Charles Russell Speechlys LLP on Companies House on 21 February.

In financial terms, both posted broadly comparable results for the 2012/13 financial year, with top-60 firm Speechlys showing flat revenue in its limited liability partnership results in February, down 0.9% to £57m from £57.6m for the 2012/13 financial year. It also saw a 9% pre-tax profit slide to £18.4m from £20.1m. Profit per equity partner (PEP) dipped 1% to £297,000 while profit per lawyer (PPL) was up 13% to £52,000.

Top-50 firm Charles Russell, however, has announced its revenues for the 2013/14 financial year, showing a 7% rise in turnover to £73.4m. Although unannounced as yet, the firm expects profit per equity partner (PEP) to increase to around £350,000, constituting a 10% rise on 2012/13.

Speechlys has previously been in the market for a partner, but called off its high-profile merger talks with private client firm Withers last May after suggestions that both firms failed to garner support from the partnerships. That union would have created a 600-lawyer practice with a combined £170m turnover and elevated it into the top 25 of the LB100.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Brown Rudnick hires Speechly’s European IP head into equivalent City role

Brown Rudnick hires Speechly’s European IP head into equivalent City role

Brown Rudnick has hired technology and intellectual property (IP) head Alex Carter-Silk from Speechly Bircham to lead its European IP practice in London.

The hire comes as the US firm aims to build its City technology and life sciences capabilities. Carter-Silk will work closely with Thomas Meyers, head of the firm’s global IP practice, and joins counsel Steven James in London to grow the European practice.

Carter-Silk headed Speechly’s innovation and IP department from 2006, becoming European IP only this month. He has experience of advising on licensing, sponsorship and franchising of IP rights, as well as the protection of copyright design rights and trademarks. He has also advised on advertising and marketing regulation and reputation management, including privacy and defamation. His clients include AIG, Beazley, Richemont, Gina Shoes, Elle Macpherson, WPL (Word Programming Limited) and CFC Underwriting Limited.

Brown Rudnick’s international litigation group head Neil Micklethwaite said: ‘Alex has a track record in building successful intellectual property and technology practices and is a litigation heavyweight, specialising in the resolution of complex, high-value, ‘bet-the-ranch’ disputes with particular expertise in the recovery of failing technology projects. His ideas, experience and drive will prove invaluable to his clients at Brown Rudnick.’

Carter-Silk added: ‘Brown Rudnick has been winning some of the toughest cases out there in recent years, building a global boutique with a reputation for top-quality senior advice. We have big ambitions for the European IP practice, with a number of strengths in complementary areas that we can use for leverage.’

Last year Brown Rudnick lost senior IP partner Georgie Collins – formerly head of IP at Lawrence Graham – to Irwin Mitchell.

Jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

International expansion: openings for Charles Russell in Saudi; Eversheds in Durban; Osborne Clarke in Amsterdam

International expansion: openings for Charles Russell in Saudi; Eversheds in Durban; Osborne Clarke in Amsterdam

A trio of UK firms have this week expanded their international office base as Charles Russell agrees a formal association with Saudi Arabian firm Al-Soaib Law, Eversheds continues to enhance its operations in Africa via a tie-up with Durban-based Knight Turner and Osborne Clarke (OC) opens an office in Amsterdam with a four partner hire.

Charles Russell, which is currently in merger talks with Speechly Bircham, said on Sunday (1 June) that the association with Al-Saoaib Law is a key part of its plans for expansion in the wider Gulf region.

The firm, which already has offices in Bahrain and Qatar and has worked with Al-Soaib on international and cross-border matters, will now have offices in Riyadh and Al Khobar.

Head of Charles Russell’s Bahrain office, Patrick Gearon, said: ‘The formalising of our relationship with Al-Soaib Law further demonstrates our commitment to the region. Our story in the Middle East is one of growth, with over 20 lawyers now based in Bahrain and a team now also based in our new offices in Doha, a presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a natural next step and we are delighted to be able to team up with our friends at Al-Soaib.’

It comes after the top 50 firm last month unveiled healthy growth for the 2013/14 financial year, with revenue at the 310-lawyer firm up 7% while profit per equity partner (PEP) is expected to increase to around £350,000, constituting a 10% rise.

Yesterday (2 June), meanwhile, saw Eversheds build its footprint in Africa through an alliance with Durban-based law firm Knight Turner, a move which will see the local independent firm rebrand as Eversheds KZN. One of the most important manufacturing hubs in South Africa alongside Johannesburg, the firm’s entry into Durban follows the formation of its ‘pan-African’ strategy, leading to tie-ups with Mahons Attorneys in South Africa, as well as a presence in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Louis in Mauritius.

Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes said: ‘This latest agreement with established firm Knight Turner, forms a key part of our Pan African strategy as we firmly establish a presence in South Africa. Durban offers a strong commercial and logistics hub and we look forward to working collaboratively with the team at Eversheds KZN to offer a seamless client experience.’

Elsewhere, OC has made further inroads into the European legal market with the opening of an office in Amsterdam. Maintaining its focus on the digital sector, the firm has appointed Baker & McKenzie’s head of IP Michiel Odink to lead the team as managing partner of OC Amsterdam. Odink moves alongside fellow Bakers partner Jeroen Bedaux, who specialises in commercial litigation; London-based Norton Rose Fulbright IT partner Jeroen Lub; and employment partner Jorgo Tsiris who joins from Steins Bisschop & Schepel. Odink, Lub, and Tsiris are also all former Allen & Overy associates.

The addition of the Amsterdam office gives the firm a total of 18 offices in eight jurisdictions following the launch of its San Francisco office this year and Paris, New York and Brussels offices in 2013.

OC’s CEO Simon Beswick said: ‘As well as being a significant international hub, establishing our Amsterdam office gives us the increased ability to provide deep local and international market knowledge to our growing client base and access successful businesses in the Netherlands in the sectors in which we are strong. We intend to grow the office quickly over the coming months and are continuing our recruitment drive in the Amsterdam area.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk