Legal Business

Simmons looks to the City in increased partner round as Gowling doubles promotions to ten

Simmons looks to the City in increased partner round as Gowling doubles promotions to ten

Top-25 UK firms Simmons & Simmons and Gowling WLG have followed suit on a series of strong partnership promotion rounds, making up 15 and 10 respectively.

Simmons promoted 15 lawyers to partner, eight of which were minted in London. The round is a significant increase on last year, when nine lawyers were promoted across the firm – a decrease from 12 the previous year – with only four promoted in the City.

Of the 15 promoted this year, six are women, seeing the firm make good on its commitment to have at least 30% of all promotion rounds comprised by women.

In London Adam Brown, Chris Owen, Elizabeth Williams and Priya Nagpal were all given the nod to become partners of the firm’s disputes practice, which received the lion’s share of the firm’s promotions with six new partners. Cathryn Bean, meanwhile, was promoted in the firm’s employment practice, while Kathryn James and Alex Ainley were promoted in the London financial markets practice. Jonathan Spencer was made up in the firm’s Bristol disputes practice.

Fourteen of the promotions were across Europe and the Middle East. The sole Asia-Pacific promotion was corporate lawyer Claudia Yiu in Hong Kong.

Gowling, meanwhile, has doubled its UK LLP’s 2018 promotions round to make up 10 partners this year.

In the UK, the firm promoted two partners to the real estate practice, three to its dispute resolution group, two in pensions, and one each in EU, trade and competition and commercial, IT and outsourcing. In France, employment lawyer Gaëlle Le Breton was made partner.

The promotions are up on last year, when five were promoted, and follow four lateral hires across different practice groups over the last year.

Gowling chief executive David Fennell (pictured) commented: ‘Our new partners are all outstanding lawyers and business advisers, with a wealth of expertise in their respective areas, consistently delivering a first class service to our clients. Their diverse skills and experience will enhance Gowling WLG’s support to clients around the world and the continued growth of the firm.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Simmons & Simmons promotions in full:

 

Adam Brown – dispute resolution, London

Alex Ainley – financial markets, London

Cathryn Bean – employment, London

Chris Owen – dispute resolution, London

Elizabeth Williams – dispute resolution, London

Kathryn James – financial markets, London

Ed Smith – employment, London

Priya Nagpal – dispute resolution, London

Jonathan Spencer – dispute resolution, Bristol

Christopher Goetz – corporate, Munich

Gijs ter Braak – corporate, Amsterdam

Paul Tjiam – dispute resolution, Amsterdam

Maria Tomillo – financial markets, Madrid

Simone Lucatello – financial markets, Milan

Claudia Yiu – corporate, Hong Kong

Gowling WLG UK LLP’s partner promotions in full:

 

Daniel Leather – Housing, Development and Regeneration

Toni Weston – Planning

Catherine Naylor – Commercial Litigation

Helen Davenport – Commercial Litigation

Sam Beighton – EU, Trade and Competition

Kieran Laird – Projects

Jocelyn Paulley – Commercial, IT and Outsourcing

Christopher Stiles – Pensions

Joanne Tibbott – Pensions

Gaëlle Le Breton – Employment

Legal Business

LLP accounts: Gowling’s UK revenue and profit fall while top-earner’s pay drops 6%

LLP accounts: Gowling’s UK revenue and profit fall while top-earner’s pay drops 6%

Revenue and profit at Gowling WLG’s UK LLP have fallen despite the overall firm, including its Canadian arm, increasing revenue by nearly 17% last year.

Gowling’s UK LLP accounts for the year to 30 April 2018 say revenue fell 5% to £179.9m. Profit, meanwhile, fell to £51.9m from £60m, a 14% drop.

The average profit share of members fell to £373,000 from £396,000, even as the average number of members fell to 142 from 154. Pay for the highest-earning member similarly fell to £859,000 from £910,000. Remuneration for key management was flat at £3.8m.

The drop occurred during the firm’s second full financial year since the 2016 tie-up between Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and Canadian firm Gowlings. The Canadian arm does not formally publish financial results, but in July last year overall revenue was said to have increased to £455.5m from £390.1m. The combination is structured as a UK company limited by guarantee (CLG), with both profits and partnerships kept separate.

In an interview with Legal Business earlier this year, Gowling chief executive David Fennell (pictured) said the UK business would be down largely because of the departure of its private client business. The legacy Lawrence Graham team left for Forsters last March, in what was described as ‘the right move’ for both the team and the firm.

Gowling noted in its accounts that Brexit has increased uncertainty for the firm but that it believes it is well equipped to deal with the risks and opportunities this presents: ‘In the longer term, the group’s strong market position and diversity of the markets in which it operates will mitigate some of the uncertainty.’

Gowling has a long-talked about ambition to expand through further mergers, with offices in nine countries. Germany is the main priority for the firm, while Southeast Asia, most likely Singapore, is also an area of interest. On Monday (7 January), the firm extended its ‘best friend’ relationship with Indian law firm Naik Naik & Company.

hamish.mcnicol@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

The LB interview: Gowling WLG

The LB interview: Gowling WLG

LB: What’s been happening in the two years since the Canada tie-up?

David Fennell (DF), chief executive: One of the reasons for doing that combination was access to the US market, so our US sales are up by 18% year-on-year.

Legal Business

Gowling WLG revenue climbs to £455m in second post-merger financial results

Gowling WLG revenue climbs to £455m in second post-merger financial results

Gowling WLG has replicated a broadly strong year for law firms after adding nearly 17% to its top line.

The firm’s second full financial year since the 2016 tie-up between Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and Canadian firm Gowlings saw revenue increase to £455.5m from £390.1m last year.

Legal Business estimated profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm, which does not report a global PEP figure, was £415,000 last year. The combination is structured as a UK company limited by guarantee (CLG), with both profits and partnerships kept separate. The Canadian arm does not formally publish financial results.

But the firm did say Canada, which has nearly 650 lawyers and 407 partners, generated 59% of the firm’s global revenue, with the remainder mostly generated in EMEA, and 1% in China. Overall partner numbers dropped from 566 to 553 while equity partners similarly fell to 376 from 400. The firm says it made 20 lateral partner hires globally during the financial year and promoted 24 to its partnership.

The firm’s key clients include AstraZeneca, Bombardier, Dyson, eBay, Estee Lauder, Royal Bank of Canada and Weetabix. During the year it also won spots on the panels of Yum! Brands, Metro Bank and the Pension Protection Fund.

It was, however, hit by the departure of its legacy Lawrence Graham private client team to Forsters in March last year. Four partners, including former private client head Anthony Thompson, left in what was described by Gowling chief executive David Fennell as ‘the right move’ for both the team and the firm.

Alongside its post-merger revenue growth, Gowling has a long-talked about ambition to expand through further mergers. Germany is the main priority for the firm, while Southeast Asia, most likely Singapore, is also an area of interest.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Gender diversity: pay gaps revealed at Addleshaw Goddard, Mishcon de Reya and Gowling WLG

Gender diversity: pay gaps revealed at Addleshaw Goddard, Mishcon de Reya and Gowling WLG

A fuller picture of the legal industry’s gender pay gap issue is emerging as Addleshaw Goddard, Mishcon de Reya and Gowling WLG become the latest firms to reveal big earnings disparities.

Gender pay brackets at Addleshaw – published Tuesday (13 March) ahead of the 4 April deadline required by legislation brought in last year – reveal the firm paid its male staff on average 43.2% more in bonuses than women for the year to 5 April 2017. The median bonus figure was 33.3%.

Female employees were paid on average 23.8% less per hour than men, although again the median figure was lower at 16.4%.

In line with the reasons touted by other firms, Addleshaw pointed to a higher proportion of females being employed in junior and administrative roles, such as secretarial services where its PA population is 98% female, and fewer women in senior roles as the reason for the discrepancy between pay and bonus gaps. Human resources director Niki Lawson said this meant the firm’s pay gap was not an equal pay issue.

‘I don’t think the data for our sector is revealing anything we don’t already know but I hope it will help to drive greater accountability across the professional services community and even greater, collective commitment to addressing the underlying causes.’

Lawson said the firm was working to close the gap through a number of initiatives, including unconscious bias training and programmes it has introduced in recent years. Its female leadership programme Flourish began in 2012, after which nearly a third of partner promotions have been female, pushing overall representation in the UK partnership to 26% from 20%. The firm is targeting 30% female partnership by 2020.

Meanwhile, Mishcon pays men 42% more than women on average in bonuses, rising to 51% as a median figure. For hourly pay, men are paid 17% more on average, rising to 37% for the median figure.

‘As has been observed across the legal industry, the data is affected by the distribution of roles: we have many more women than men working in secretarial and legal operations roles,’ the firm said in its report. ‘In our business, 63% of our people are women. Our secretarial and legal operations roles are 97% women and make up 19% of the roles performed by women at the firm.’

Gowling WLG also published its numbers on its website recently. They reveal that the firm’s hourly pay is 25% higher for men on both a median and average basis, while bonuses are 64% higher for men on average, and 49% higher on a median basis. Again, the firm blames having proportionally more females in support roles than its lawyer population for the pay gap.

Regarding the bonus disparity, the firm said it has three bonus schemes but there is a higher proportion of females in the firm-wide scheme than in the director and fee-earner bonus schemes. The firm has a gender target of 30% female partnership by 2026.

‘We are confident we do not have an equal pay issue,’ the firm’s report said. ‘However, we are continuing to take steps to ensure that everyone within the firm has the same career opportunities, allowing them to access salary and bonus progression as they develop and advance through the firm.’

These numbers follow magic circle firm Allen & Overy, revealing on Monday (12 March) it paid its male staff on average more than 42% in bonuses than women, with the median bonus figure standing at 23%. The firm’s female employees were paid on average 19.8% less per hour than their male counterparts, a gap which widened to 27.4% when the median figure was calculated.

Other firms to report include Linklaters, which last month revealed that it paid its male staff members nearly 60% more in bonuses than women. Taylor Wessing, Bird & Bird, Pinsent Masons and CMS have also reported their pay gaps.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Life during law: Andrew Witts, Gowling WLG

Life during law: Andrew Witts, Gowling WLG

I grew up outside London and left school at 16 to start a mechanical engineering apprenticeship.

I didn’t have A-levels so the options were limited. I went to the Polytechnic of Central London. There was a mixed group from different backgrounds. We were all there because we wanted to be.

Legal Business

Gowling WLG and Fieldfisher to train solicitor apprentices as ULaw forges new paths to profession

Gowling WLG and Fieldfisher to train solicitor apprentices as ULaw forges new paths to profession

Gowling WLG and Fieldfisher are to begin training solicitor apprentices with the University of Law (ULaw) as part of a training course designed to create new pathways to becoming a qualified lawyer.

The new course from ULaw, which officially launched on 25 September, will see 28 apprentices this autumn begin the six-year process in a programme aimed at encouraging a wider pool of candidates to enter the profession.

The course includes a combination of work-based and online supervised study, together with practical and academic activities that will give students a LLB in legal practice skills and ultimately allow them to qualify as solicitors. The programme is also designed to comply with the Government-backed trailblazer standard for legal apprenticeships.

Once apprentices complete the assessments and parts one and two of the incoming solicitors qualifying exam (SQE), which is due to come into force in 2020, they will be able to apply to become fully recognised as lawyers.

The SQE – often dubbed the ‘super exam’ – is part of an ‘outcomes-focused’ overhaul aimed at improving work-based training options and to open the profession up entrants without degrees.

Locations for the apprenticeships include London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, which ULaw claims will help to widen ‘opportunities for participation and is designed so that it can be tailored to the role undertaken by the apprentice and develop the practical skills employers require’. ULaw is, alongside BPP, one of the two dominant providers of vocational training to major UK law firms.

Gowling is sponsoring three apprentices at ULaw’s Birmingham branch, while Fieldfisher has apprentices in London and Manchester. The programme is also being supported by personal injury specialist Plexus Law, which has apprentices going through the programme in London, Leeds and Manchester.

Emma Cox, head of HR at Fieldfisher, added: ‘Ensuring that we have diversity of talent is increasingly important. Our clients are from a wide range of sectors, many of which do not always recruit from traditional backgrounds. We need to have teams advising them which are more representative of the communities in which they operate.’

Lucy Dolan, early talent resourcing manager at Gowling WLG, said: ‘The three apprentices from our firm have already proven themselves as valuable employees during previous paralegal apprenticeships and we look forward to supporting them on this new venture.’

The SRA announced in April 2017 that the new single, centrally-set SQE will come into use from September 2020, replacing the current requirements for trainee solicitors to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before undertaking two-year training contracts.

So far apprenticeships have been painfully slow to take off in the profession and moves to usher in the ‘super exam’ have been controversial with supporters of the status quo. However, a number of major law firms, including Burges Salmon, Reed Smith and Mayer Brown, have so far announced plans to train apprentices. With the profession’s dire record on social mobility generating more negative headlines, the pressure for more such initiatives is set to grow.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

For more on the controversial super-exam see: ‘A bit like Brexit’: SRA super-exam draws strong reaction but is it knee-jerk resistance to change? (£)

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Gowling and Farrer appoint five each in strong rounds for women

Partner promotions: Gowling and Farrer appoint five each in strong rounds for women

LB100 firms Gowling WLG and Farrer & Co have carried out their latest promotion rounds, with 80% of both Farrer and Gowlings’ promotions being women.

Effective from 1 May 2017, senior associates Marie Bates, Laura Conduit, Charlotte Fraser, Elizabeth Jones and Oliver Piper will become partners at Farrers.

Each new partner has a different expertise, with Bates specialising in M&A, joint ventures and reorganisations. Conduit is a London residential property expert and Fraser is focused on disputes. Jones has a background in advising on charity governance while Piper is a private wealth lawyer.

With this latest round, Farrer boosts the total percentage of women partners to 37%, with 73 partners in total. Promotions are slightly down on last year when six senior associates were made up. However, the percentage of female appointments has grown from last year’s figure of 50%.

The number of promotions at Gowlings has significantly increased from last year, jumping from two to five. In last year’s round, the firm appointed two directors to its partnership, namely Chris Towle and Michael Twining.

This year’s process sees Sarah Galvin, Elizabeth Gane, Samantha Holland, Felicity Lindsay and Mark Stephenson elevated to partnership, with four of the five new partners women. Galvin and Lindsay are appointed from the firm’s 300-strong real estate practice while Holland and Stephenson come from the dispute resolution group. Gane will become a partner in the firm’s pensions team, bringing with her an extensive background advising trustees and employers on pensions issues. All the new partners will also assume their roles on 1 May 2017.

Gowling chief executive David Fennell (pictured) said: ‘Our new partners advise clients in some of our most successful practices and sectors. They have all demonstrated energy, innovation and commitment in helping these clients achieve their business objectives over a number of years.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Partner promotions in full:

Farrer & Co:

Marie Bates – corporate

Laura Conduit – real estate

Charlotte Fraser – dispute resolution

Elizabeth Jones – charity law

Oliver Piper – private wealth

Gowling WLG:

Sarah Galvin – real estate

Felicity Lindsay – real estate

Samantha Holland – dispute resolution

Mark Stephenson – dispute resolution

Elizabeth Gane – pensions


 

Legal Business

Gowlings relocates partner to Stuttgart to launch second Germany office

Gowlings relocates partner to Stuttgart to launch second Germany office

In its first European office opening since its 2016 merger, Gowling WLG has launched a second German outpost in Stuttgart.

The firm said it will relocate corporate partner Andreas Woelfle, along with counsel Petra Beyer to the new office, adding it that it plans to add a principal associate in the next few months.

While Gowlings’ existing office in Munich focuses on IP and IT, the new office will focus on corporate law including capital markets.

Woelfe said: ‘Stuttgart and the Baden-Wurttemberg region are home to some of our most outstanding clients in our key sectors such as automotive, technology and advanced manufacturing.’

The firm has recently added to its Paris tax team with the appointment of partner Julien Monsenego from Olswang, as well as Céline Bey, who was of counsel at Herbert Smith Freehills but joined as partner.

Other recent international expansion for the firm includes its Singapore tie-up with JurisAsia, an IP and corporate law specialist. JurisAsia is led by Sheena Jacob, a former head of IP at Bird & Bird.

In the City, Gowling lost its legacy Lawrence Graham private client team earlier this month to Mayfair firm Forsters. The four partner team including private client head Anthony Thompson, as well as Catharine Bell, Nicholas Jacob and Daniel Ugur.

Legacy firm Lawrence Graham was well known for its private client expertise, with the contentious trusts and probate team, led by Bell, ranked in tier two of The Legal 500. Andrew Witts, now chairman of the combined firm, is also recommended ‘for his experience of running large, complex multijurisdictional fraud and trust disputes in offshore jurisdictions.’ Clients of the team include New World Trust Company and Jersey Trust Company.

In a statement, chief executive David Fennell said: ‘The move by our London private client practice to Forsters is the right one for both the team and Gowling WLG. We had been in discussions with the team for some time, but have agreed that there is no longer a strong strategic fit with the firm’s ambitions.

victoria.young@legalease.co.uk

Read more: ‘The road to Ottawa – why WLG believes Gowlings can put it on the global map’

 

Legal Business

‘The right move’: Four-partner private client team leaves Gowling WLG for Forsters

‘The right move’: Four-partner private client team leaves Gowling WLG for Forsters

Gowling WLG has lost its legacy Lawrence Graham private client team, including four partners, to Mayfair firm Forsters.

Private client head Anthony Thompson is to depart, along with partners Catharine Bell, Nicholas Jacob and Daniel Ugur. The partners will be joined by 10 lawyers and five staff members.

Legacy firm Lawrence Graham was well known for its private client expertise, with the contentious trusts and probate team, led by Bell, ranked in tier two of The Legal 500. Andrew Witts, now chairman of the combined firm, is also recommended ‘for his experience of running large, complex multijurisdictional fraud and trust disputes in offshore jurisdictions.’ Clients of the team include New World Trust Company and Jersey Trust Company.

In a statement, chief executive David Fennell said: ‘The move by our London private client practice to Forsters is the right one for both the team and Gowling WLG. We had been in discussions with the team for some time, but have agreed that there is no longer a strong strategic fit with the firm’s ambitions.

‘We are focused on our priority practice areas and sectors across our international platform, building on the momentum from the Gowling WLG combination earlier this year. This move will enable Private Client to build its platform within a business which specialises in the private client market and we wish them well.’

Following the move, the Forsters private client team will compromise 48 lawyers and Forsters’ wider private wealth offering, including family and contentious trust and probate, will contribute more than one third of the firm’s revenue. The move will also broaden Forsters’ geographic reach in the Middle East and Asia.

Commenting on the acquisition, Patrick Harney, partner and head of the private client team at Forsters said the team acquisition is highly significant for the firm, increasing the scope and reach of its private wealth services and adding to the expertise for UK domiciled and internationally based clients.

Paul Roberts, managing partner at Forsters added: ‘The Gowling WLG team will be an excellent addition to our private wealth offering and to the wider firm. Our strategy of focusing on what we are good at – real estate and private client – has been successful and we have no intention of changing it. This acquisition will be another significant step in Forsters becoming recognised as a market leader in our chosen areas of excellence.’

The move will benefit the private client team from Gowlings personally, as it is joining a firm that has considerable financial muscle and has been one of the strongest performers in the LB100 in recent years. Fee income grew by 11% in 2015/16 to £46.2m, constituting its sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth since 2011, while PEP stands at £550,000 compared to £382,000 at Gowlings.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk