Legal Business

International round-up: DWF recruits five partners for Düsseldorf as CMS expands in Africa

International round-up: DWF recruits five partners for Düsseldorf as CMS expands in Africa

DWF has made its second post-IPO international office opening, hiring a five-partner team in Germany, while CMS has added two firms in South Africa and Kenya to its network.

DWF said today (7 October) it was opening its fourth German office in Düsseldorf after recruiting the entire office of Marccus Partners, consisting of 10 staff – including five partners. Marccus – which is not listed in any of the recognised legal directories for Germany – specialises in company law, M&A, insolvency, banking and finance, real estate and tax. One of the hires, Norbert Knüppel, will be DWF’s executive partner of the new office.

The opening adds to DWF’s Berlin, Cologne and Munich offices and increases local headcount to more than 80 people. DWF Europe chair, Ulrich Jüngst, commented: ‘They are very highly regarded and will be an excellent addition to our German business, significantly strengthening our corporate practice domestically as well as our ability to advise on cross-border transactions throughout Europe. This move further builds our international footprint, demonstrating continued delivery on this key IPO objective.’

Knüppel added: ‘We were attracted to join DWF’s rapidly growing business with a strong reputation for innovation. It is investing in its national and global capabilities and we look forward to playing our part in DWF’s continued impressive expansion.’

The Düsseldorf opening is DWF’s second international office launch since the firm listed on the London Stock Exchange in March . In May, the firm expanded into Poland with a £3m acquisition of K&L Gates’ 11-partner Warsaw office.

The firm’s first full-year financial results since listing, reported in July, showed revenue rose 15% to £272m in the 2018/19 financial year, of which 12.5% was attributed to organic growth. But profit after tax fell 42% to £12.2m, impacted by the £20m cost of the IPO.

Also today, CMS added 20-lawyer RM Partners in Johannesburg and 35-strong Daly & Inamdar Advocates in Nairobi and Mombasa. The deals mean the firm has passed the 4,800-lawyer mark, counting 75 offices in 43 countries.

CMS is the second international firm to expand in Africa in the space of a few weeks. Last month, Dentons announced it was merging with five firms in Angola, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia, adding 54 lawyers to its African footprint.

Legal Business

Deal watch: City teams fly on £4.6bn Rolls-Royce pension deal as Kirkland and Goodwin take multi-billion dollar mandates

Deal watch: City teams fly on £4.6bn Rolls-Royce pension deal as Kirkland and Goodwin take multi-billion dollar mandates

Big-ticket deals have been fuelling the market in pensions, private equity and fundraising recently with UK top-10 firms and US rivals alike taking the controls on significant mandates.

Legal & General (L&G) handed a joint mandate to CMS and Eversheds Sutherland to advise on its £4.6bn buy-in to buy-out with the Rolls-Royce UK Pension Fund (RRPF), a deal which is billed as the UK’s largest ever bulk annuity and which saw Linklaters act for the trustees.

The pension risk transfer sees the insurer strike its fourth of the five largest deals of this kind in the UK, with the others being British Airways (£4.4bn), ICI (£3bn) and TRW (£2.5bn).

The Eversheds team advising L&G was led by corporate partner Hugo Laing and pensions partner Mark Latimour, alongside CMS partner Thomas Lockley. The Linklaters team was led by global head of pensions Claire Petheram and derivatives partner Mark Brown. The in-house legal team at L&G included Helena Hawthorn, Camilla Curtis and Hannah Kilshaw.

Laing, who also acted for L&G on its £2.4bn buy-out of the Nortel pension scheme and £1.1bn buy-out of the Vickers pension scheme, is optimistic about the market.

‘Volatility in the market can be a good thing for pension deals as it can favourably impact pricing. Insurers buying pension schemes has really boomed in the last few years and the deal values are getting bigger and bigger. The Rolls-Royce deal has shown how big the deals can get and I suspect there will be more of this size to come’, he told Legal Business.

Petheram told Legal Business that the transaction is part of a ‘huge trend’: ‘There is an awful lot of activity in buy-ins where insurers take responsibility for pension liabilities. There has been increased activity in the longevity swap area and that’s only going to ramp up further as corporates look to manage their pension liabilities proactively.’

She added: ‘Insurers represent a gold-standard covenant and there is a willingness on the side of corporates and trustees to lean into these deals. It represents an acceptable position. Trustees have a laser focus on the interests of their members and they can see that deals like this work.’

She expects to see an increase in the number of large-scale transactions over the next 12 months and more innovation in dealing with pension risks.

Kirlkland & Ellis’ City lawyers have also been busy, with the Chicago-bred juggernaut advising investment adviser and repeat customer GLP on the $18.7bn sale of its US logistics business to Blackstone. The firm the same week advised BC Partners-backed United Group on a €220m deal to acquire mobile operator Tele2 Croatia from Tele2 Group.

The GLP deal was co-led by Kirkland corporate partners Michael Steele in London and Michael Brueck in New York, with the team also including real estate partner Kevin Ehrhart in Los Angeles, investment funds partner Kelly Ryan in Chicago and tax partner Mike Beinus in New York.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised long-standing client Blackstone out of New York with a team led by real estate partner Davis Coen.

The sale includes logistics properties owned across 3 separate GLP US funds and totals 179 million square feet of urban logistics assets, claiming to be the largest ever private real estate transaction in the States.

London corporate partner David D’Souza led the Kirkland team advising United Group, supported by David Higgins, debt finance partner Neel Sachdev, capital markets partner Matthew Merkle, technology & intellectual property transactions partner Jenny Wilson and tax partners Tim Lowe and Jan Hobbs. The team was also supported by local law firms Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic, Karanovic Partners and Setterwalls.

Tele2 was advised by Schoenherr through its offices in Austria and Croatia, having acted for Tele2 on a number of other disposals in the region. D’Souza said the acquisition will enable United Group to widen the services that it provides and its coverage across Europe.

Having crept largely unnoticed up Legal Business’ Global London table this year, Goodwin Procter’s City office has been making waves, announcing two major fundraisings in the same week.

The Boston-bred firm advised Glennmont Partners on the €850m closing of its Clean Energy Fund III to invest in clean energy infrastructure projects in Europe. The Goodwin team was led by London partners Michael Halford, Alexandrine Armstrong-Cerfontaine and Laura Charkin.

Although led out of New York by partners David Watson and James Donohue, Goodwin also advised Advent International on its $17.5bn fundraise for its ninth global private equity fund GPE IX Limited Partnership.

The fund surpassed its $16bn target after six months in the market while Advent’s previous global fund, GPE VIII, closed on $13bn 2016.Halford and Charkin also advised on the deal out of London.

Halford told Legal Business the Glennmont transaction was a sign of increased interest in renewable energy investments as indicated by the fund’s diversification of investors into the US and Asia. ‘The market is very active and this is a great time to be raising funds. We are expecting more funds activity over the summer.’

Watson said that Goodwin has acted for Advent since its formation in 1984 and has personally advised the private equity house since 1988. He notes an uptick of interest in the ventures space and a migration from its traditional heartlands of California and Boston over to New York.

Legal Business

CMS dismisses City IP head and reports to watchdog as scrutiny of partner conduct grows

CMS dismisses City IP head and reports to watchdog as scrutiny of partner conduct grows

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang’s former head of IP Joel Barry has been asked to leave its partnership in a matter that has been reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In the latest senior dismissal to hit City law amid increasing scrutiny of partner behaviour, CMS terminated Barry’s appointment on 16 April. CMS declined to comment on the reasons for the move, responding to a request for comment as follows: ‘We can confirm that a partner has been asked to leave the firm and will not be commenting further.’

An SRA spokesperson said: ‘Now that we are aware, we will look at all relevant information before deciding on any next steps.’

Said to be one of the highest-earning partners at legacy Olswang, Barry joined CMS after its three-way union with his former firm and Nabarro in May 2017.

The episode comes just over a year after news emerged that CMS had dismissed and reported to the SRA another former Olswang partner who had joined the firm after the merger. Corporate partner and Singapore head Andrew Stott was dismissed amid ‘confidential matters’.

In that case, CMS declined to comment on the reasons for Stott’s departure. Stott confirmed to Legal Business that he had left the firm but declined to comment further citing confidentiality provisions. A spokesperson for CMS, however, said that there was not a non-disclosure agreement drawn up as part of the process.

A number of law firms have in recent months seen partners leave following complaints of inappropriate behaviour. They include Baker McKenzie, Reed Smith, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Latham & Watkins, Herbert Smith Freehills and Dentons.

Intense scrutiny is also being placed on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), with the government in March proposing new legislation that would make it illegal for employers to use gagging orders to prevent the reporting of sexual misconduct in the workplace to police.

Last month a solicitor at Allen & Overy was recommended for prosecution by the SRA over a controversial NDA drafted for film producer Harvey Weinstein. On 3 May the SRA published a list of allegations being pursued before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal against Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith.

Legal Business

CMS announces largest ever promotion round with women making up half of 49-strong cohort

CMS announces largest ever promotion round with women making up half of 49-strong cohort

CMS has added its name to the growing list of firms increasing their partner intake this year, with its cohort up two on last year’s 47.

It was a particularly improved show for gender diversity as 47% of the 49 new partners globally are women. In the UK, 16 of the firm’s 21 promotions across seven offices were women.

Two years on from the three way merger with Nabarro and Olswang, the firm also upped the ante in London, as 14 were given the nod compared to 11 in 2018.

Aberdeen saw two promoted, while Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield got one new partner each.

Outside the UK, France had the largest intake with seven promoted, while Germany saw a much smaller intake this time around, with just three minted compared to nine last year.

UK senior partner Penelope Warne (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘We have promoted our top talent. We have not gone out of our way to choose women over men. It’s been something which is entirely organic within our firm, not something we have deliberately tried to do in an artificial way. But it’s a very good news story.’

She added: ‘The firm is a growing firm. It’s been a very good year. The combination in the UK with Olswang and Nabarro has been a great success from our perspective. The business has been very busy and that of course enables us to create more career opportunities for all of our people, which is fantastic.’

CMS is the latest firm to increase its promotion round this year, with all Magic Circle firms except Slaughter and May increasing their intake both globally and in the City.

CMS partner promotions in full:


Andrea Potz Employment and pensions – Vienna


Virginie Frémat Corporate – Brussels


Dimitar Zwiatkow Banking and finance – Sofia


Rodrigo Campero Dispute resolution – Santiago


Jelena Nushol Banking and finance – Zagreb
Marija Zrno Corporate/M&A – Zagreb


Benoît Bailly Tax – Paris
Jean-Charles Benois Tax – Paris
Mathieu Daudé Tax – Paris
Bruno Dondero Corporate/M&A – Paris
Christophe Leclère Tax – Paris
Arnaud Reygrobellet Banking and finance, commercial – Paris
Nicolas Riou Tax – Paris


Dr Daniel Otte Corporate/M&A – Cologne
Christoff Soltau Competition and EU-  Hamburg
Dr Peter Wende Dispute resolution – Stuttgart


César Lechuga Perezanta Corporate/M&A, real estate – Mexico City
Luis Fernández Lagunas Energy, corporate/M&A – Mexico City


Cecilia Vargas Employment – Lima
Miguel Viale Banking and finance,  corporate/M&A, project finance – Lima


Łukasz Dynysiuk Corporate/M&A, tax – Warsaw
Marek Oleksyn Intellectual property – Warsaw


Fernando Cruz Trinca Commercial – Lisbon
Nuno Figueirôa Santos Tax – Lisbon


Petra Čorba Stark Corporate/M&A – Bratislava
Michal Hut’an Real estate, energy, infrastructure – Bratislava


Tetyana Dovgan Corporate/M&A – Kyiv

United Arab Emirates

Rob Flaws Technology and media – Dubai

United Kingdom

Paula Kidd Energy – oil and gas – Aberdeen
Carol Nisbet Real estate – Aberdeen
Robert Jones Insurance – contentious – Bristol
Mark McMurray Planning – Glasgow
Jenny Walker Infrastructure and projects – Edinburgh
Lauren Alder Tax – London
Gordon Anton Corporate/M&A – London
Lindsey Barrett Real estate – London
Johanna Clarke Pensions – London
Anna Cope Employment – London
Caitlin Heard Intellectual property – London
Josie Hearnden Real estate finance – London
Tom Jameson Corporate/M&A – London
Eleanor Murray Real estate disputes – London
Jenny Nanalal Financial services and products, risk transactions – London
Thomas Siggers Banking and finance, corporate and leveraged finance – London
Anna Soilleux-Mills Technology and media – London
Pippa Tasker Financial services and products, regulatory – London
Alaina Wadsworth Insurance – contentious  –London
Tanya Francis Real estate – Manchester
Rebecca Roffe Planning – Sheffield

Legal Business

More cuts in the City as Ince & Co slashes more than 30 roles

More cuts in the City as Ince & Co slashes more than 30 roles

Shipping specialist Ince & Co has announced 32 redundancies in its London office in the latest wave of cuts by law firms in the City.

Ince is letting 25 business services staff and seven fee earners go, with three further roles still under consultation, including a managing associate whom Ince aims to relocate to one of its international offices.

Following the redundancies, the firm is looking to sublet 22% of its 35,000sq ft floor space in Aldgate Tower.

London office head Andrew Jameson said: ‘We recognise that that our recent restructure has been unsettling for all our people and want to thank them for their professionalism throughout the process, which was carried out in a fair and transparent manner to ensure that we have the right people, in the right place, doing the right jobs.’

Ince warned last month that between 32 and 36 roles were likely to be cut, mostly among its business services staff.

After three years of decline, in 2016/17 the firm saw revenue grow 16% to £88.5m after opening two new offices in Marseille and Cologne. In recent years it has taken several measures to improve its performance, such as restructuring its partnership and creating a bonus remuneration pool which saw the top of the equity jump from £430,000 to £550,000. The firm moved into its current premises at Aldgate Tower in 2016 and invested in new technologies to promote agile working.

Ince is also pushing into the Asia-Pacific market. Last autumn senior partner Jan Heuvels moved from London to Hong Kong in a move which the firm said was due to the region being prosperous for its transport, trade, energy and infrastructure and insurance clients. HR director Jameson was appointed to the newly drafted role of head of the London office following Heuvels’ move.

Earlier this year the firm’s chairman Paul Herring relocated to Piraeus to lead Ince’s Greek office.

Other UK firms have made similar moves to shed their City headcounts amid increasing pressure to maximise on efficiency. Last month Hogan Lovells cut 54 business services roles, moving most of them to low-cost hubs in Birmingham, Johannesburg and Louisville.  In May, Ashurst announced a review that could result in the loss of 80% of its London secretarial team. Pinsent Masons warned in September that as many as 100 legal personal assistants were at risk of redundancy.

Elsewhere, CMS confirmed yesterday it is almost halving the lawyer headcount in its Reading office. The firm has cut seven of the 16 legal roles in its Berkshire base, acquired through the merger with Olswang and Nabarro last year.

Part of the firm’s real estate asset management service group, most of the associates were relocated to the firm’s Bristol and Sheffield hubs or assigned alternative roles, while one junior fee-earner was made redundant. The legacy Olswang’s former office now houses one partner and eight fee-earners.

‘We felt that it made sense strategically to have real estate asset management concentrated in these busy hubs [Bristol and Sheffield],’ said a spokesperson for the firm. ‘We remain committed to our Reading office and this decision does not impact the rest of the team based there. We have a number of partners regularly working from the Reading office who support a number of clients in the region and it remains a very important hub for the firm.’

Legal Business

Women deal stars: perspectives – Penelope Warne, CMS

Women deal stars: perspectives – Penelope Warne, CMS

‘Compared to ten years ago, in some ways it’s easier for women and in some it’s more difficult. It is easier because there is a lot of support for gender equality and initiatives to support women. For example, the 30% Club to support them particularly at senior level and at board positions.

Attitudes have changed, we have a lot of policies now around helping many women but also men who want to work in a more agile fashion. This helps women have their career and also a family – but they are also popular with men.

Culture is key. If you set a culture that encourages agile working and communicate it clearly within the firm that does make a difference.

What makes things more difficult compared to ten years ago is that everything moves at a much faster pace. There is more complexity in deals, a global aspect and a lot of pressure. This puts a lot more pressure on men and women.

We have a work allocation system in our firm which means lawyers don’t get overloaded or under-loaded, so everyone is busy but not in an impossible situation.

We have unconscious bias training, very enhanced maternity and paternity leave – not only in terms of pay but also in not having any clawback if someone decides not to return after maternity leave. Thirty per cent of the board are women and 30% of the partners are women. This creates a momentum of its own and a more balanced environment in the firm.

Some of the deals are still very male-dominated because some other institutions have not progressed as quickly as we have. Sometimes the cultural environment has not been put at the top of the agenda in the way we have.

Ultimately it comes down to having supportive teams at the firm. It makes it a lot easier for women to be able to drive forward their careers.

My experience of very successful women is they all have strong relationships with their clients. They work the same hours as men but in a more agile and flexible way. If your internal culture allows that to happen that makes all the difference.’

Penelope Warne is senior partner of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and cited in ‘Alphas’ Legal Business’ current cover feature on the City’s outstanding women lawyers (£)

Interview by Marco Cillario.

Legal Business

Clyde & Co, CMS and DAC Beachcroft pick up partners from an ailing Sedgwick

Clyde & Co, CMS and DAC Beachcroft pick up partners from an ailing Sedgwick

As US firm Sedgwick heads towards closure in the New Year, UK-based outfits Clyde & Co,  CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and DAC Beachcroft have profited by picking up a number of partners.

DAC has hired a team comprising two partners and four associates from Sedgwick that will join its London office in January. This includes Mark Kendall, who led Sedgwick’s London international property and casualty team since 2010 and has also headed the firm’s Latin American group since 2014. Kendall’s practice has a strong focus on product recall and liability in sectors including food and pharmaceuticals. DAC confirmed that Kendall ‘shares a number of key clients’ with the firm.

Disputes partner Duncan Strachan will also be joining DAC in the New Year with a practice that centres on litigation defence in Latin American jurisdictions in addition to the UK and Europe. Alongside Strachan and Kendall, four associates and a non-fee earner will be making the switch to DAC.

Helen Faulkner, DAC’s head of insurance, told Legal Business: ‘While there aren’t many insurer clients that we don’t work with, Mark’s team gives us additional traction with some clients. We needed to build our bench strength in London. Mark and Duncan’s collaborative nature fits well with our culture.’

CMS has also tapped Sedgwick’s London office recruiting partner Tristan Hall. Specialising in financial claims and cyber risks, he will quit the US firm after seven years.

Office managing partner Edward Smerdon is now the only London partner whose destination remains unknown.

Meanwhile Clydes is looking to make a major US play, hiring two partners from Sedgwick to its San Francisco office, while discussions to bring in around 20 additional partners are ongoing.

Aside from San Francisco, Clydes is also in discussions with various other Sedgwick partners across the US. The firm will be seeking to build on the opening of its ninth US office in Los Angeles in July.

A spokesperson at the firm said: ‘We are sorry to hear the news of Sedgwick’s closure. We know many of its lawyers and hold them in high regard. In line with our own growth potential in the US, we are in advanced discussions with a number of its insurance partners, predominantly in California, about the possibility of them joining us. It would not be appropriate to comment further while discussions are ongoing.’

Legal Business

‘Real estate up the agenda’: CMS brings across Paris team from Herbert Smith

‘Real estate up the agenda’: CMS brings across Paris team from Herbert Smith

CMS is continuing its global expansion with news that its French member firm has hired a two-partner real estate team from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) in Paris.

With the acquisition of Nabarro and Olswang in the UK having moved real estate up the agenda at CMS, 12 lawyers will join CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre at the start of 2018.

Well-cited Paris head of real estate Pierre Popesco and urban planning and public law expert Florence Chérel will leave HSF after 12 years. Counsel Benjamin Bill will also join CMS as a partner. The office has also recruited counsel Jean-Marc Peyron and eight other lawyers.

‘The UK merger on 1 May provided an input to the international expansion and opportunities for the real estate practice,’ Ciaran Carvalho, head of the CMS UK real estate team, told Legal Business. ‘Real estate has moved up the agenda with Nabarro coming in, and Olswang added a lot of capability. Nabarro didn’t have international breadth but a big client list, and this can provide a platform for the future expansion of CMS.’

Popesco and Chérel both joined HSF in 2005 and started their careers at Lefèvre Pelletier & associés. Popesco also headed the legal department at Espace Promotion, a subsidiary of Unibail, specialising in shopping centres development before joining HSF. His clients included Amundi Immobilier and Apsys, which he advised on a €1bn and a $1bn deals respectively. He also acted for Eiffage Immobilier, Allianz Real Estate and China Huayou.

Chérel made partner in 2009 and has advised companies including UBS Real Estate, Bouygues Immobilier and Carlyle.

CMS real estate practice now counts more than 800 lawyers, over 40 of them in France, while CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre has 420 fee earners including 108 partners.

HSF confirmed that Popesco and Chérel had retired from the partnership in a statement, which added: ‘Last year, we recruited David Lacaze to drive forward the growth of our Paris real estate practice. He and his team are delivering on this strategy further strengthening our client relationships.’

The team hire is the latest chapter in CMS’ recent international expansion story.  Last week, the firm signed a partnership with Saudi practice Feras Al Shawaf to expand its network in the Middle East and North Africa region.

And earlier this year, CMS expanded in Latin America adding three new member firms from Chile, Peru and Colombia to its network.

Legal Business

CMS signs up Saudi partners as White & Case brings in heavyweight Swedish duo

CMS signs up Saudi partners as White & Case brings in heavyweight Swedish duo

They are already two of the most globalised law firms in the business, but CMS and White & Case have announced fresh international investment this week with CMS securing a new partner in the Middle East as the US-bred giant makes significant hires in Sweden.

Four months after completing the largest legal merger in UK history, CMS is continuing its expansion after signing a partnership with Riyadh practice Feras Al Shawaf.

The move expands CMS’s network in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; managed by the Dubai central hub, the firm has more than 100 lawyers and offices in Algeria, Iran, Morocco, Oman, Turkey and association agreements in Lebanon and Iraq.

‘MENA is a dynamic growth region that is gaining importance for our clients and Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the region,’ said Duncan Weston, CMS executive partner for global development.

CMS executive chairman Cornelius Brandi told Legal Business: ‘It is a structured co-operation, we will exchange information as far as we can and collaborate very closely. We have worked with Feras Al Shawaf for four or five years, discussions for a formal partnership started around the beginning of this year.’

Established in 1999 and formed of three partners, seven associates and a senior counsel, Feras Al Shawaf has relationships with a number of local government bodies, including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Capital Market Authority. The firm previously had a partnership with Trowers & Hamlins, which terminated after the departure of the City firm’s last associate in Riyadh in September 2011.

For CMS, the Saudi deal follows up on its expansion in Latin America earlier this year, when the firm added three new member firms from Chile, Peru and Colombia to its network.

Meanwhile, White & Case’s Stockholm branch has recruited Jan Jensen, the chair of Nordic leader Hannes Snellman, to head its private equity practice in the region. Jensen is joined by Hannes Snellman partner Shoan Panahi and associate Patrik Erblad.

For the Euro Elite firm, the departures are the second blow in the last few weeks, with Eversheds Sutherland acquiring the Finnish-based firm’s entire operation in Russia at the beginning of the month, including a team of 22 lawyers. Contacted by Legal Business, Hannes Snellman senior partner Johan Aalto confirmed that the lawyers would leave the firm later this year but declined to comment further.

Legal Business

‘Short-term pain, long-term gain’: Q&A with CMS UK managing partner Stephen Millar

‘Short-term pain, long-term gain’: Q&A with CMS UK managing partner Stephen Millar

On 1 May 2017, the largest legal merger in UK history went live as CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang combined to form the 2,000-lawyer CMS UK. Managing partner Stephen Millar tells Marco Cillario about hurdles and opportunities of the tie-up.

LB: What have been the biggest challenges of combining and integrating three firms?

Stephen Millar, CMS UK managing partner: Looking at previous mergers, we knew this was about going through short-term pain for medium and long-term gain. Integration is a huge challenge when you have thousands of people and complex systems in place.

In the first ten weeks after the merger, lawyers were getting to know each other and going through a huge amount of change. We had to keep the organisation focused on the long-term vision while going through the day-to-day challenges. Things are not perfect yet, but we are in a much more integrated place.

The cultures of the three firms were not identical but similar. Partners want to be in business with each other. This is one of our strongest foundations for success.

LB: How will the merger help meet clients’ expectations?

SM: Clients say with a number of mergers they are not sure what the strategic rationale is, but with ours they got it immediately. They have access to an international platform and specialisms coming together from different firms – such as energy and financial services from CMS, technology from Olswang, real estate from Nabarro. We are seeing significant new work coming in.

LB: What are the core benchmarks for the merger over the next 18 months? How will you know if it’s going in the right direction?

SM: Clients are our priority, and there are different ways to measure our success with them: mainly winning new work and new panel appointments across different sectors.

Economic measures are crude but important. In these early months we are performing ahead of expectations. We want to promote more people to partner and make people feel they have a strong career path here. To do that, we have to win more work from clients.

LB: What are the main challenges that UK law firms face over the next few years and how is CMS UK equipped to address them?

SM: It is a very competitive market, that’s why we merged: so we have competitive advantage.

Brexit means more regulatory advice is required, companies need support to reorganise, sterling has devalued so companies are making greater investments into the UK. The London legal market is going to thrive in the future notwithstanding Brexit, and as we get more connected with other parts of the world new opportunities will arise.

You started as CMS’ UK managing partner in May 2016. How do you see your leadership style and how did it fit with the merger?

SM: I love looking at the big picture while taking care of the details and know I need to be schizophrenic about that. What I enjoy the most in my job is advancing the business.

What else are you hoping to achieve before the end of your mandate in 2020?

SM: One of the core points I stood on when elected was increasing our presence in London. That’s been achieved. Another aim is to expand into the US: that’s a long-term strategic objective and it’s a work in progress…