Legal Business

Financials 2020/21: European contributions crucial as Fieldfisher and Kennedys post resilient revenues

Financials 2020/21: European contributions crucial as Fieldfisher and Kennedys post resilient revenues

Thanks in part to their respective European networks, Fieldfisher and Kennedys have both posted robust 2020/21 revenues in the face of the pandemic.

There was an inevitable slowdown in growth at Fieldfisher, today unveiling a modest 6% uptick in revenues to reach £290m. It is the firm’s eighth consecutive year of growth, but it does not match double-digit increases seen in recent years. The firm chalked up the deceleration to ‘the impact of the pandemic.’

In that context a 6% rise is respectable, and the firm attributed the solid performance to double-digit revenue growth across its Brussels, German and Paris offices, an endorsement of its frantic European expansion in recent years. Its Silicon Valley hub, which acts as a gateway to European markets for US clients, increased turnover by 9%.

The firm did not disclose detailed financial results last year, so a like-for-like comparison is not possible, but profit per equity partner (PEP) hit £860,000. The figure was £805,000 in 2019.

Managing partner Michael Chissick said: ‘In a challenging year when Brexit and Covid-19 were front and centre of everybody’s agenda, I am pleased to be announcing our positive results. Activity levels over the last year reached record highs in some months and remain strong. We are back to focusing on growth. We will continue to add and promote talent to our ranks to support our growth strategy and we have started the new financial year with confidence and optimism.’

Work highlighted by the firm included its disputes team acting on the $370m Tatneft case, the longest virtual trial in the High Court, as well as the corporate team assisting Ferrero Rocher on its £246m acquisition of Fox’s Biscuits confectionery brands.

Meanwhile Kennedys managed to outstrip its 9% revenue growth from last year, today recording an 11% jump in global turnover to reach £264m. Like Fieldfisher, the firm pointed to ‘exceptional growth’ across its European offices, which collectively grew revenues 45% on the previous year.

In the UK, turnover was up 9% on the previous year, hitting £151m. The firm will have benefited from its Leeds launch at the start of the year, which saw a 36-strong insurance team arrive from Langleys.

Kennedys also reported double-digit growth in Latin America and North America, and added 25 partner appointments in the last 12 months to boost its global benches.

Senior partner Nick Thomas (pictured) hailed the positive results as the firm decided not to make any redundancies or pay cuts when the pandemic hit: ‘It gave me immense satisfaction to lead a partnership that chose to do this during what was a very challenging time.’

He added: ‘When we released strong financial results last year, we were only a couple of months into the pandemic. We did not know what the year ahead would hold. So, these results serve as a testament to the incredible professionalism and hard work of our teams across the world. I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts to support our clients and each other over the past year.’

Legal Business

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

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

Wealth of experience: Fieldfisher hires private client duo from Linklaters

Wealth of experience: Fieldfisher hires private client duo from Linklaters

Fieldfisher has hired Linklaters’ head of trusts Peter Golden to lead up its private client team.

Golden will replace partner Penny Wotton, who will be remain in the team and focus on the firm’s charity client base and building out the private client practice. He will be joined by Alistair Robertson, who will be promoted from managing associate to partner in the move.

The firm declined to comment on whether any other lawyers would also be transferring.

Linklaters hired Golden from Forsters in 2016 to head up its trusts practice as part of a strategy to reposition the Magic Circle firm for private client work. He advises offshore ultra-high net worth and UK-based foreign nationals on trust, private client and charity matters.

Golden commented: ‘I am very excited to be joining Fieldfisher, which I believe will provide an ideal platform for me to develop the firm’s private client base and promote its reputation for providing specialist advice to ultra-high net worth clients.

‘I am looking forward to working with Penny and the existing team of private client experts in a new, ambitious environment with the tools and support necessary to grow the practice.’

Robertson advises international individuals, families, trustees, family offices and private banks on succession planning, personal taxation and trust law with a focus on ultra-high net worth individuals in the Far East.

Elsewhere in private client moves, Clyde & Co last week said it was transferring the team it acquired following its merger with Simpson & Marwick in 2015 to Scottish firm Gillespie Macandrew in Edinburgh. The move was part of Clydes’ strategy of focusing on its core sectors of insurance, energy, trade & commodities, transport and infrastructure.

Legal Business

Fieldfisher reducing UK reliance following third consecutive year of double-digit growth

Fieldfisher reducing UK reliance following third consecutive year of double-digit growth

Fieldfisher is looking to further reduce the percentage of overall turnover generated in the UK following a year defined by geographic expansion.

Turnover at the mid-market pace-setter hit £242m, up a better-than-expected 17% in the third consecutive year of double-digit growth at the firm. Profit per equity partner (PEP) rose 7% to £805,000, and has nearly doubled over the last five years.

One of the largest contributors to the firm’s growth was Germany, where revenue grew 48%, including the firm’s newly-opened Frankfurt office. Within the UK, revenue increased 11%, while the firm’s corporate practice grew 28%. Financial services was highlighted as the best performing sector, growing 14% to £31m.

The performance eclipses the single-digit growth Chissick had last year predicted amid Brexit-induced uncertainty. In addition to its Frankfurt opening, Fieldfisher also launched in Barcelona, Madrid, Guangzhou, Luxembourg and most recently, Dublin.

‘We’re looking to reduce the percentage of overall turnover generated in the UK,’ Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘Our zeal to be a European law firm is unblemished, but we won’t be going for so many office openings. There will be more focus on consolidation and integration in the year ahead.’

The firm also saw headcount grow, with 24 lateral hires and a 14-strong promotion round leading to a 24% growth in fee earners. But the revenue growth represents a relative slowdown on last year, when the firm’s revenue soared 24% and PEP grew 17%.

Despite lingering Brexit uncertainty and a degree of caution at the firm, Chissick remains confident for the year ahead and hopes to grow the firm’s European brand further.

‘We’re chuffed with the results,’ he told Legal Business. ‘The firm has had a really standout year.’

Other financial results this month have seen Stephenson Harwood return to growth while CMS pushed forward its UK revenue by 5%.

Legal Business

Global expansion: Fieldfisher picks Dublin for seventh office launch in a year

Global expansion: Fieldfisher picks Dublin for seventh office launch in a year

Fieldfisher continues to build on what managing partner Michael Chissick describes as a strategy to be ‘in every commercial capital in Europe’, having opened in Dublin – its seventh new office since the beginning of 2018.

The mid-market pacesetter merged on 1 May with Irish firm McDowell Purcell to add the 25th office to its global verein. Led by managing partner JP McDowell, the 120-year-old firm counts 16 partners and 50 lawyers. Its regulatory practice is its core strength, while also operating in disputes, employment, planning, restructuring and insolvency.

Legal Business

Fieldfisher merges with top 20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell for Dublin launch

Fieldfisher merges with top 20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell for Dublin launch

Fieldfisher is continuing its fervent EU expansion with a new Dublin office, launched via a merger with top 20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell.

The 120-year-old Irish outfit, which consists of 16 partners and 50 lawyers, has a flagship regulatory practice, but other specialisms include dispute resolution, employment and insolvency and restructuring. It is led by managing partner JP McDowell (pictured, left).

Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick (pictured, right) told Legal Business: ‘We set out a strategy a few years ago to be in every commercial capital in Europe, and Ireland is a key financial centre. We like the life sciences industry developing there too, so there were a lot of nice synergies.’

He added: ‘This combination will create the eighteenth largest law firm in the Republic of Ireland.’

McDowell noted that merger discussions between the two firms started to intensify last summer, but they had worked with each other for close to a decade. He commented: ‘We did talk to other law firms [about a merger], but the pan-European presence Fieldfisher has and the level of ambition Michael has shown swung the balance.’ McDowell, who will operate as Fieldfisher’s managing partner for the Republic of Ireland, said around 30 new partners, lawyers and support staff are set to join the Dublin office in the next year.

The tie-up, which will come into effect from 1 May, will mark Fieldfisher’s 25th global office. It comes somewhat unexpectedly, after Chissick played down the potential for further European launches after the firm added a long-awaited Spanish arm last year.

The Spain launch, which was also achieved via a merger with a local firm, came after a sustained period of European expansion. Fieldfisher also opened in offices in Luxembourg and Frankfurt earlier that same year, with a new Amsterdam office established in 2017.

Fieldfisher has been one of the UK’s highest-performing firms in recent years. Between 2013 and 2018 its firm-wide revenue has grown 118% to £207m.

Legal Business

Eversheds’ City partner promotions dip in bolstered global round as Fieldfisher makes up most ever

Eversheds’ City partner promotions dip in bolstered global round as Fieldfisher makes up most ever

Eversheds Sutherland’s international business has made 27 partner promotions, up seven on a flat 2018 round, but with just three promotions in London.

Fieldfisher, meanwhile, has made up 17 partners this year in its largest ever promotions round.

A third of Eversheds’ promotions are female, with the firm aiming for 30% female representation at partner level by 2021. In the UK the firm made up 16 partners, up from nine last year, across Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cambridge, Nottingham, and London.

Three were minted in the City, which was down one on the four made up last year. The 11 promoted outside the UK are in Dublin, Durban, Luxembourg, Baghdad, Rome, Dubai and Munich.

There were nine promotions in company commercial, eight in litigation and disputes, six in real estate and four in human resources. The round is up on last year’s 20 promotions, in what was a flat year. In December, Eversheds Sutherland US made up six to partner, down on last year’s 17.

Chief executive Lee Ranson (pictured) commented on the round, which also included 17 legal director promotions: ‘The Eversheds Sutherland promotion process is challenging and designed to ensure that only the very best candidates succeed. On behalf of the firm, I would therefore like to congratulate all of the successful candidates on this significant achievement.’

Elsewhere, Fieldfisher had another record promotions round, making up 14 across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brussels, Munich and Silicon Valley. The promotions were up on last year’s ten, and included five in London as well as 50% female representation. The practice areas covered were IP, technology, personal injury, corporate, employment, construction, finance, regulatory and dispute resolution.

Managing partner Michael Chissick commented: ‘I am proud that we have achieved such a high level of promotions this year – a record for the firm, both in terms of the number of new partners and the number of offices involved.’

The full list of Eversheds partner promotions:

Colin Askew, tax, Leeds
Enda Cullivan, corporate, Dublin
Andrew Davidson, commercial, Durban
Alexandre Huebscher, financial services, Luxembourg
Mozahem Khalaf, corporate, Baghdad
Massimo Maioletti, GDPR, Rome
Hani Nassef, corporate, Dubai
Jenna Poulton, restructuring, Birmingham
Lara Wills, commercial, Durban
Lisa Bryson, employment, Belfast
Simon Daniel, pensions, Manchester
Louise Lightfoot, employment, Leeds
Manuela Rauch, employment, Munich
Mark Cooper, FSDI, London
Tom Douglas, (real estate litigation and construction) RELCON, Cambridge
Mariangela di Giandomenico, administrative law, Rome
Richard Hartigan, RELCON, Birmingham
Louise Howarth, CDR, Nottingham
Nick Pinder, RELCON, London
Jane Southworth, environment H&S, Manchester
Salam Zuhair, CDR, Baghdad
Balraj Birdi, core real estate, London
Peter Bowen, operations director, Leeds
Elizabeth Cartwright, core real estate, Manchester
Ben Newton, core real estate, Birmingham
Philipp Turnwald, core real estate, Munich
Daniel Walsh, core real estate, Birmingham

The full list of Fieldfisher partner promotions:

Amy Reynolds, IP and technology, protection and enforcement, London
Dushal Mehta, personal injury, London
Edward Westhead, corporate, London
Fabian Reissinger, employment, Munich
Felicity Fisher, privacy, security and information, Silicon Valley
Helen Andrews, construction, Birmingham
James Corlett, brand development, franchising, advertising and commercial, Manchester
Katharina Weimer, technology, outsourcing and privacy, Munich
Marsili Hale, finance, London
Nick Phillips, real estate, Birmingham
Olivia Woolston Morgan, technology, outsourcing and privacy, London
Peter Sellar, regulatory, Brussels
Stephen May, dispute resolution, Birmingham
Tracey Wright, dispute resolution, London

Legal Business

‘A leading player’: Fieldfisher ups real estate game with RPC construction and projects team

‘A leading player’: Fieldfisher ups real estate game with RPC construction and projects team

Enterprising top-25 firm Fieldfisher has made a significant construction and projects play, hiring a team including two partners from RPC.

Dan Preston, who was RPC’s head of construction and projects, is joining Fieldfisher alongside fellow partner David Thorne in addition to a team of five associates. One of those is senior associate Jamie Key, who will join Fieldfisher as a partner.

Preston, who deals with both contentious and non-contentious construction work, will become head of construction and projects at Fieldfisher. His clients include the Morgan Sindall Group and Sir Robert McAlpine, and has represented property giant Hammerson in the Technology and Construction Court.

Thorne, who counts VolkerWessels Group as part of his client book, has in recent years focused on construction disputes, also based in the Technology and Construction Court.

Antony Phillips, Fieldfisher’s head of real estate, told Legal Business: ‘We are now a very significant real estate practice offering the entire range of services that any sophisticated real estate buyer of legal services will require.

‘They [Preston and Thorne] are incredibly high profile and highly-regarded construction lawyers, and they offer a genuinely top-tier construction team in themselves. Putting them together with our team makes us a leading player in the market.’

Preston, Thorne and the rest of the RPC team will join Fieldfisher on 1 May, where they will primarily be based in the firm’s London office.

The team appointment comes at an intrepid time for Fieldfisher, with the firm undergoing significant expansion in the last 12 months. In January, Fieldfisher set up a separate law firm focused on hedge funds, derivatives and alternative investments called Cummings Fisher.

Last year saw Fieldfisher realise its long-term ambition of opening in Spain, agreeing a tie-up with local firm JAUSAS to gain new offices in Barcelona and Madrid.

Legal Business

Corporate partner David Wilkinson wins Fieldfisher senior partner election

Corporate partner David Wilkinson wins Fieldfisher senior partner election

Corporate partner David Wilkinson has beaten competition from real estate head Anthony Phillips to win Fieldfisher’s senior partner race, replacing incumbent Matthew Lohn after six years in the role.

Wilkinson will serve a three-year term starting 1 May 2019. Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick confirmed that Wilkinson will continue in a ‘dual role’ as fee-earner and senior partner, and described him as a ‘well-respected partner.’

Wilkinson, who is a Fieldfisher lifer, outweighed his rival Phillips in terms of longevity: he joined as a trainee in 1990, before being made partner in the corporate practice in 1999. Since then he has been involved in a number of high-profile deals, including advising Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov on his 2007 purchase of a 14.6% stake in Arsenal Football Club.

Wilkinson commented: ‘I am very much looking forward to working closely with Michael and the firm’s executive committee and supervisory board as we continue to grow and integrate our offices across Europe.’

He added: ‘Key parts of my role will be to ensure that our values remain at the heart of everything that we do and that we continue to engage with, and listen to, our clients to improve still further the quality and scope of our services.’

Phillips, who is a solicitor advocate, is currently Fieldfisher’s head of real estate. He also has pedigree with the firm, joining in May 2005 from Mayer Brown, before going on to sit on the firm’s executive committee between 2010 and 2018.

Lohn had originally been appointed Fieldfisher’s managing partner, but an extended leave of absence saw then-technology partner Chissick take over on an interim basis in 2012. In 2013, Chissick was confirmed as full-time managing partner with Lohn taking on the senior partner role.

Upon stepping down, Lohn will continue in his role as a partner in Fieldfisher’s public and regulatory department.

The election comes after incumbent managing partner Chissick was re-elected last year. He ran unopposed, with his next three year term beginning on 1 May 2019.

Wilkinson ascends at a boom period for Fieldfisher, the firm unveiled an above-trend 26% uptick in its H1 revenues for the 2018/19 financial year, hitting £97m.

Legal Business

Fieldfisher swims against the current with launch of stand-alone alternative investments law firm

Fieldfisher swims against the current with launch of stand-alone alternative investments law firm

Never a firm to rest on its laurels, fast-paced Fieldfisher has taken the unusual step of launching a separate law firm focused on hedge funds, derivatives and alternative investments.

The new entity – called Cummings Fisher – sees Fieldfisher hire three partners from other law firms to run it. Financial services partner Claire Cummings, who founded alternative investments boutique Cummings Law in 2003, has been appointed managing partner. She will be joined by James Tinworth, formerly head of Stephenson Harwood’s hedge funds practice, who will lead the funds practice. Ron Feldman, previously a partner at asset management consultancy MJ Hudson, will spearhead the derivatives practice.

Cummings Fisher will be based at 1 Mayfair Place, London’s hedge fund and alternative asset management hub. Despite the separate office, Cummings Fisher will still be able to access Fieldfisher’s pool of lawyers and its outposts dotted across Europe.

Structurally, Cummings Fisher is a completely separate firm rather than a division or new brand of Fieldfisher. It is an independent, SRA-authorised firm that is owned and supported by Fieldfisher. It is not an Alternative Business Structure (ABS).

Guy Usher, head of financial markets and products at Fieldfisher, told Legal Business that the idea for a separate law firm came after seeing the success of Fieldfisher’s near shore operation in Belfast: ‘We wanted to do a similar service with a competitive price point for investment managers. We needed more hedge fund clients for this to work though, which is why we approached Claire. In fact, she was the first person who answered our email asking to meet for a coffee!’

Cummings added: ‘We are building up the practice we already had at Cummings Law. We had lots of smaller clients that we would often regard as friends, but now with the ability to exploit Fieldfisher’s resources, we are able to offer more for our larger clients.’

The Cummings Fisher launch builds on a sustained period of international growth and new product lines for Fieldfisher. In 2018, the firm opened the low-cost hub in Belfast, with a long-term view of staffing it with 125 people. The Northern Irish office provides document negotiation and legal support from a team largely consisting of paralegals.

In early 2017, Fieldfisher launched Condor, an alternative legal services platform which offers clients process-efficient services. Among those on offer are contract negotiation and outsourcing, contract automation, AI and robotics.

In other firm news, last week it was revealed that corporate partner David Wilkinson and real estate partner Anthony Phillips had launched bids to succeed Matthew Lohn as Fieldfisher’s senior partner.