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.

Legal Business

European Court of Justice makes landmark Brexit ruling as Fieldfisher prevails in $1.9bn Ukrainian banking dispute

European Court of Justice makes landmark Brexit ruling as Fieldfisher prevails in $1.9bn Ukrainian banking dispute

As a crunch parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal looks to be postponed, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled the UK is free to unilaterally revoke its decision to a divorce from the EU.

The landmark ruling means that UK parliament can instruct the government to bring an end to the Brexit process, if it so wishes.

The dispute pitted a batch of Scottish anti-Brexit politicians, namely Andy Wightman, Ross Greer, Alyn Smith, David Martin, Catherine Stihler, and Joanna Cherry against the government, the Council of the EU and the European Commission.

As a result of the ruling, the argument from the two EU institutions that the consent of the other 27 member states would be needed for the UK to revoke its withdrawal was defeated.

Hogan Lovells’ public law partner Charles Brasted commented: ‘In the long-term, practical questions remain as to whether, if the circumstances were to arise, the option for the UK to outstay its welcome is politically realistic. In the more immediate term, confirmation that the UK can still choose to remain in the EU is likely to harden minds, and cause more entrenchment, on both sides of the political divide against the compromises presented by the government’s deal.’

A raft of lawyers were enlisted for the case, with the anti-Brexit politicians represented by Edinburgh firm Balfour + Manson, which instructed Matrix Chambers’ Aidan O’Neill QC as lead counsel. He was supported by Brick Court’s Maya Lester QC, and Joylon Maugham QC’s Good Law Project offered crowdfunding support.

Blackstone Chambers’ Thomas de la Mare QC acted for the government, while London firm Bindmans advised MPs Chris Leslie and Tom Brake who intervened in favour of the anti-Brexit politicians.

Meanwhile, Fieldfisher has successfully represented Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky in a case against the eastern European nation’s largest bank, PrivatBank.

Kolomoisky, and fellow defendant Gennadiy Bogolyubov, had been accused by the bank of defrauding it out of $1.91bn, with PrivatBank subsequently attempting to impose a worldwide freezing injunction (WFO) on them. Both men were the majority shareholders in the bank prior to its nationalisation in Ukraine in December 2016.

In the High Court, Justice Fancourt dismissed the WFO after identifying ‘serious non-disclosure and misrepresentation’ by PrivatBank in its claim. As a result, Justice Fancourt ruled that the maximum possible value of PrivatBank’s claim should be slashed from $1.91bn to just $515m.

Fieldfisher partner Andrew Lafferty, who led on the case, told Legal Business: ‘Our client has always maintained that the bank’s claims were politically motivated and misconceived. The judge has found that at least three quarters of their claim was not arguable at all.

‘As a firm we may have hidden our light under a bushel when it comes to disputes, despite historically working on some big claims. It’s great to have our name associated with such a high-profile dispute.’

PrivatBank was represented by Hogan Lovells, while Bogolyubov was advised by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Legal Business

‘Continues to fly’: Fieldfisher true to form with 26% revenue hike as Chissick gets re-elected

‘Continues to fly’: Fieldfisher true to form with 26% revenue hike as Chissick gets re-elected

Cementing its reputation as one of the UK’s highest-performing firms, Fieldfisher has recorded an above-trend 26% uptick in revenue in its half-year results for 2018/19.

The £97m turnover outstripped the £76.7m for the comparable period, the first half of last year. The revenue figure covers Fieldfisher’s UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Silicon Valley offices. The firm’s Swiss Verein offices in Netherlands, Italy, Spain and China are not included.

A strong showing from Fieldfisher’s German offices was credited as a key driver in the notable revenue increase, with those seeing 60% growth in turnover in the last year.

Also making impressions was the Paris office, which jumped 36% in revenue, while the firm’s new Frankfurt outpost has grown from one partner at the time of its April launch to 4 partners now.

In terms of practice groups, dispute resolution, tech, outsourcing and privacy, finance and corporate were cited by the firm as the highest performing, with each of them delivering more than 37% revenue growth in the six-month period.

Michael Chissick (pictured), Fieldfisher’s managing partner, told Legal Business: ‘It has been a very consistent three-year performance. We have had a strong run in our focused sectors, while GDPR continues to fly for us.’

Chissick says that GDPR has ‘exploded’ in the last year and the firm has benefitted from the rise in cyber security work: ‘We are doing about one cyber security incident per day for our clients. It’s an area of law which barely existed about five years ago, I find that fascinating.’

The H1 results build on similarly pacey full-year financials for 2017/18, which contributed to the firm’s winning Legal Business’ law firm of the year award in April. In June, Fieldfisher announced a sharp 24% rise in global revenue to £207m, accompanied by a healthy 17% jump in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £750,000.

Chissick’s tenure as managing partner has been characterised by fierce global expansion. In September, the firm concluded a much-anticipated tie-up in Spain with local firm JAUSAS, giving Fieldfisher access to offices in Barcelona and Madrid. According to Chissick at the time, it brought an end to the era of European expansion, at least for the time being.

Also this year, Fieldfisher established a low-cost hub in Belfast in conjunction with Donaldson Legal Consulting, to provide document negotiation and legal support from a team largely consisting of paralegals.

Chissick has also been eyeing up a post-Brexit Dublin launch. He said: ‘It’s something we’re looking at for 2019. We have a good track record of delivering on new offices.’

In May, Chissick was re-elected as managing partner for a third consecutive term. He ran unopposed, and will begin his next three-year term on 1 May 2019.

Legal Business

The new El Dorado: Fieldfisher launches in Spain as Latham doubles Madrid team in 12 months

The new El Dorado: Fieldfisher launches in Spain as Latham doubles Madrid team in 12 months

Ignored by much of the global elite until a few years ago, Spain is quickly becoming one of the hottest legal markets in continental Europe, with Latham & Watkins more than doubling its headcount in less than a year while UK challenger firm Fieldfisher delivers on its much anticipated launch.

Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick announced on 25 September that the firm had completed a three-year-long search to combine with 60-lawyer firm JAUSAS.