Legal Business

Ince & Co administrator reveals partners had ‘no appetite’ to rescue failing firm with £8.5m cash injection

Ince & Co administrator reveals partners had ‘no appetite’ to rescue failing firm with £8.5m cash injection

Ince & Co partners ruled out a £8.5m capital injection that may have saved the firm from financial failure, according to a report from administrators Quantuma.

At a meeting in October 2018, Ince partners were informed that if a sale to a third party could not be hastily arranged, partners would have to agree to a three-year lock in and contribute at least £8.5m to rescue the firm.

But the report, published this week with Companies House, states that partners had ‘no appetite’ to provide the necessary additional capital, and that some salaried partners had also refused to join the equity in order to provide financial support.

Had Ince not ultimately pursued its tie-up with listed firm Gordon Dadds, which materialised later in October, Quantuma’s report insists the firm’s situation would have become ‘unmanageable’ by January 2019. It says ‘it would have led to the uncontrolled break-up of the firm with a heightened risk of an intervention by the SRA.’

Jan Hungar, managing partner of Ince & Co in Germany, said: ‘This demonstrates what we said at the time of the acquisition, that the deal with Gordon Dadds was essential to ensure that Ince continued to operate and to enable us to grow.’

As part of a contingency plan should no merger be agreed, the firm decided that retired partners would not be paid any outstanding capital repayments due on 31 December 2018 in order to manage cash-flow.

According to the document, Ince’s three subsidiaries (the London LLP, the international LLP and the Ince & Co Services subsidiary) collectively owe around £34m to unsecured creditors. The London LLP owes £19.8m to creditors, of which they will recoup 21.8p in the pound.

Creditors of the international LLP, which are owed £7.2m, will only receive less than 1p in the pound. Meanwhile, creditors of the Services branch, which are owed £7.1m, are in line to recoup 3.5p in the pound.

The report also charts the lead-up to the height of financial instability, detailing a sharp reduction in partner headcount: In December 2017 there were 37 equity partners in Ince’s London LLP, by December 2019 the number dwindled to 22.  The costs of repaying capital to the former partners who left during this period was estimated to be around £4m.

For the six month period to October 2018, compared to the same period during the previous year, revenues at the London LLP plummeted 26% to £16.7m.

For its part, Quantuma is expecting to take home just over £800,000 in fees as a result of the administration process.

Macfarlanes advised Ince and the administrator, accruing £134,164 in the process while Pinsent Masons advised the firm on the sale of the business, earning fees totalling £123,717.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Fit like a glove’: Gordon Dadds brings Ince into the modern era, says leadership

‘Fit like a glove’: Gordon Dadds brings Ince into the modern era, says leadership

The lack of overlap between Gordon Dadds and Ince & Co made the tie-up an ‘overwhelmingly attractive proposition’, the firms’ leaders say.

Gordon Dadds will be become the UK’s largest listed law firm by revenue after an announcement this morning (29 October) confirmed its acquisition of Ince for an expected £43m. The new firm, to be called Ince Gordon Dadds, will jump into the UK top 40 with revenue of more than £110m, and have 100 partners across offices in nine countries.

Gordon Dadds managing partner and chief executive Adrian Biles will lead the new firm with support from Ince’s chairman, Peter Rogan. It will be headquartered in Ince’s Aldgate Tower offices in London, with the deal for the marine and insurance specialist expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Biles told Legal Business the two firms had been in discussions since June, around the time Gordon Dadds opened its first international office in Hong Kong .

‘It was clear to us that Ince was a firm with the sort of global footprint that we wanted,’ Biles said. ‘It’s also an iconic brand and a business where we do not have practice areas that overlap very much. That made it an overwhelmingly attractive proposition.’

The amount paid for Ince is expected to be £34m, which equates to a percentage of the turnover generated by Ince’s equity partners over the next three years. Gordon Dadds will also settle the £9.1m capital and current account balances due to Ince partners.

Rogan, a former Ince senior partner who returned to leadership following the August resignation of Jan Heuvels , told Legal Business the firm needed 75% of its 75 equity partners to vote in favour. He did not know exactly how many agreed.

‘There were definitely a few partners where this wasn’t for them,’ Rogan said. ‘We’re a pretty traditional, conservative firm, and the concept of being part of a plc group caused people to think. But by the time I got to the last two weeks, I had pretty much overwhelming support.’

Ince had a long-stated ambition of merging for growth, and Rogan said previous discussions had tended to be with firms who were either direct competitors or where a major part was in direct competition. Many have criticised the Gordon Dadds deal for a lack of obvious crossover between the two firms, but Rogan said that was a positive.

‘The more we chatted to Gordon Dadds, the more we realised it was an exceptionally good fit because there was virtually no overlap. When you took the merger as a whole and compared it to most mergers of this size, it actually fit like a glove. It has overwhelming support because there will be no clash internally.’

Rogan added: ‘Clients have been really positive about it. We are seen as conservative and perhaps old-fashioned, and they are quite impressed Ince, of all people, has jumped into the modern world.’

Gordon Dadds shares will remain suspended pending further clarification on the final terms and conditions and financing of the proposed merger. Biles said the exact makeup of the financing was still confidential.

Today’s announcement comes a month after the two confirmed merger talks. Earlier this year, Biles told Legal Business the firm had its sights on becoming a ‘nine-figure’ business after its acquisition of Thomas Simon.

Ince, meanwhile, has suffered a number of setbacks this year. A number of veteran partners have left in recent weeks, most recently the head of its Singapore office . Earlier in the year, it lost a four-partner team to sector rival Clyde & Co in Hamburg, and made 25 business services staff and seven fee-earners redundant.

Ince’s tumultuous year was underlined by a poor financial performance: it fell 6% in revenue terms, falling to £83.4m. Profit per equity partner (PEP) remained flat at £256,000.

As part of the deal, Ince partners will each receive a minimum guaranteed amount in the first year based on budgeted turnover. Both Biles and Rogan declined to specify the amount, while Biles would not comment on what the Ince acquisition was expected to add to Gordon Dadds’ operating profits.

Biles said the firm had no further concrete acquisitions plans and would focus on bedding in the Ince merger. ‘We are a listed company, we are designed for growth, so our shareholders expect us to grow both top line and bottom line. But the most important thing in the short term is to make sure this merger brings maximum benefits to all stakeholders concerned. This is not a destination, this is a journey.’

Hamish.mcnicol@legalbusiness.co.uk

For more on the outlook for listed law firms, see this month’s cover feature, ‘No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?’

Legal Business

Gordon Dadds to become largest listed firm with £43m acquisition of Ince

Gordon Dadds to become largest listed firm with £43m acquisition of Ince

Gordon Dadds is set to become the UK’s largest listed law firm by revenue after acquiring Ince & Co for an expected £43m.

An announcement to the London Stock Exchange today (29 October) confirmed Gordon Dadds had agreed to acquire all of Ince, including its international LLP. The new firm, to be called Ince Gordon Dadds, will jump into the UK top 40 with revenue of more than £110m, and have 100 partners across offices in nine countries.

Gordon Dadds managing partner and chief executive Adrian Biles (pictured) will lead the new firm with support from Ince’s chairman, Peter Rogan. It will be headquartered in Ince’s Aldgate Tower offices in London. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Ince Gordon Dadds will become the UK’s largest listed law firm by revenue, eclipsing Gateley. The total paid for Ince is expected to be £34m, which equates to a percentage of the turnover generated by Ince’s equity partners over the next three years.

Biles commented: ‘The merger will build upon the complementary strengths of the two firms in terms of industry expertise and range of services. Our management model will also allow Ince’s partners and fee earners to focus even more on providing market leading legal advice to a stellar client base.’

Rogan added: ‘This is an exciting day for us at Ince, with this cutting-edge deal being very much in line with our long-established strategy. I’m proud that the Ince name will continue and am very excited to be moving forward together as part of this innovative new structure with access to new capital allowing us to gain greater competitive advantage in the market.’

As part of the deal, Ince partners will each receive a minimum guaranteed amount in the first year based on budgeted turnover. Gordon Dadds will also settle the £9.1m capital and current account balances due to Ince partners, bringing the total value of the deal to more than £43m.

Today’s announcement comes a month after the two confirmed merger talks. Earlier this year, Biles told Legal Business the firm had its sights on becoming a ‘nine-figure’ business after its acquisition of Thomas Simon. He was seeking a ‘scale transaction’ involving the buyout of an underperforming £20m to £40m firm: a tie-up with Ince has taken that ambition to a different level.

Ince, meanwhile, has suffered a number of setbacks this year. First, the marine and insurance specialist lost a four-partner team to sector rival Clyde & Co in Hamburg in February. Then, in July, Ince made 25 business services staff and seven fee-earners redundant.

The biggest setback came in August, when the firm’s senior partner, Jan Heuvels, stepped down from his position after being relocated to Hong Kong.

Ince’s tumultuous year was underlined by a poor financial performance: it shed 6% of its revenues, falling to £83.4m. Profit per equity partner (PEP) remained flat at £256,000.

Gordon Dadds shares will remain suspended pending further clarification on the final terms and conditions and financing of the proposed merger.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

For more on the outlook for listed law firms, see this month’s cover feature, ‘No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?’

Legal Business

Further losses at Ince as Singapore head leaves for Stephenson Harwood in double exit

Further losses at Ince as Singapore head leaves for Stephenson Harwood in double exit

Partners are departing at a rate of knots from Ince & Co ahead of its proposed Gordon Dadds merger, with a pair of veteran Singapore-based partners the latest set to join Stephenson Harwood.

Making the switch is Ince’s managing partner for the Singapore region, John Simpson, and regional finance team head, Martin Brown. Simpson is set to move on 1 May 2019, while Brown will join on 1 November 2018. Stephenson Harwood has taken three partners from Ince this week.

Simpson specialises in shipping, energy and international trade and acts for a wide range of clients, including multinational metals and petroleum companies. His major mandates at Ince include advising energy company GlobalORE on revisions to the Standard Iron Ore Trading Agreement (SIOTA), and representing a Singaporean shipyard on a dispute worth tens of millions of dollars.

Brown’s departure from Ince follows nearly ten years at the firm. His practice involves advising on cross-border ship finance and off-shore maritime transactional matters.

Martin Green, managing partner of Stephenson Harwood’s Singapore office, commented: ‘With the international shipping industry having been in a state of flux for some time, John’s joining the firm will allow us to further support our clients in the region as they face the evolving challenges. In particular, his vast experience advising on arbitration in Singapore, London, Kuala Lumpur and Indonesia will further bolster our offering to clients.’

The hires follow Stephenson Harwood announcing yesterday (15 October) it had hired Ince’s global insurance head Joe O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe had spent over 27 years at Ince, advising insurance on coverage issues, casualties and disputed claims. London partner Kiran Soar has been selected to replace O’Keeffe as global insurance head.

At Ince, the spate of outgoing partners comes amid surprise merger talks with listed firm Gordon Dadds. In September the two firms confirmed they were in discussions to create the UK’s largest listed law firm, with a combined turnover of around £114m.

Rumours had swirled in recent months that Ince was lining up a merger, particularly after revenue fell 6% to £83.4m in the last financial year. Other setbacks included the stepping down of senior partner Jan Heuvels in August, and the February departure of a four-partner team to sector rival Clyde & Co in Hamburg.

In July, Ince made 25 business services staff and seven fee-earners redundant.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘It’s a marriage of convenience’: Gordon Dadds to make its big splash as Ince merger talks intensify

‘It’s a marriage of convenience’: Gordon Dadds to make its big splash as Ince merger talks intensify

Gordon Dadds has emerged as the unlikely rescuer to ailing Ince & Co, with the two outfits in merger discussions to create the UK’s largest listed law firm.

The seismic move will create a £114m turnover firm called Ince Gordon Dadds. Gordon Dadds is currently in the due diligence stage, but a partnership vote is yet to take place.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange today (27 September), Gordon Dadds said: ‘The boards of Gordon Dadds and Ince & Co are in discussions to merge the two businesses. The precise structure and mechanics of the transaction are also under discussion and the respective boards are working towards a further announcement as soon as possible. There can be no certainty at this time that the merger will proceed and we will update shareholders in due course.’

For Gordon Dadds, the merger will be the culmination of its highly acquisitive strategy following its August 2017 initial public offering (IPO). Earlier this year, chief executive Adrian Biles spoke to Legal Business about the need to engage in a ‘scale transaction’ involving the buyout of an underperforming £20m to £40m firm, in order to make a big impact on the market going forward. A tie-up with Ince would take that ambition to a different level. This proposed merger comes after a string of buyouts since floating, including a £2m deal for Bristol firm Metcalfes and a £3m purchase of legal and professional services business White & Black.

Earlier this year, Biles told Legal Business the firm had its sights on becoming a ‘nine-figure’ business after its acquisition of Thomas Simon. Gordon Dadds raised about £20m when it listed, with its acquisitions to date all broadly structured the same way: staggering payments over time while not being particularly draining on cash up front.

One legal consultant said that while at first blush the market will think the tie-up makes no sense whatsoever, the motivations of the two firms is important to consider.

They suspect Gordon Dadds was likely to have approached Ince & Co, because of the former’s stated acquisition ambitions and tendency to buy distressed firms, alongside Ince’s turbulent recent history.

‘It’s a marriage of convenience, not one of love – as normal mergers would be seen to be,’ they commented. ‘For Ince, this is a life boat.’

Biles told Legal Business earlier this year the firm had developed a technology infrastructure which could support hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue: ‘The duplication of infrastructure is unnecessary… why not consolidate?’

He added: ‘Our mission is to aggregate sufficient revenue in order to help move the market onto a new model. If you have got £1m of revenue the market controls you but if you have got £500m of revenue, you can start to persuade the market that it might be possible to buy a service in a different way.’

The consultant added that Gordon Dadds was more of a legal platform than a traditional law firm, describing it as a ‘cousin’ to fellow listed firm Keystone Law. ‘Gordon Dadds is not necessarily looking for complementary firms. If I were Adrian, I’d be trawling through the list of the UK top 100 now looking for opportunities.’

Rumours of an Ince/Gordon Dadds merger have been swirling in recent months, particularly after Ince suffered a number of setbacks this year. First, the marine and insurance specialist lost a four-partner team to sector rival Clyde & Co in Hamburg in February. Then, in July, Ince made 25 business services staff and seven fee-earners redundant.

The biggest setback came in August, when the firm’s senior partner, Jan Heuvels, stepped down from his position after being relocated to Hong Kong.

Ince’s tumultuous year was underlined by a poor financial performance: it shed 6% of its revenues, falling to £83.4m. Profit per equity partner (PEP) remained flat at £256,000.

It has been a completely different story at Gordon Dadds. The firm has emerged from obscurity after being acquired by Biles who became managing partner in 2013, and since its IPO it has grown revenue to £31.2m, causing it to jump up nine places to 88th in the LB100 rankings. In response to the news, Gordon Dadds’ share price jumped from 173p to 182p this morning.

Ince declined to comment. Gordon Dadds was approached for comment.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

For more background on Ince & Co and Gordon Dadds, see ‘Gordon Dadds acquisition sweep continues but breakthrough deal remains illusive‘ and ‘Ports in a storm – Can Ince get back on course?‘ (£)

Legal Business

‘The time is right’: Ince senior partner Heuvels steps down amid job losses

‘The time is right’: Ince senior partner Heuvels steps down amid job losses

Ince & Co’s senior partner Jan Heuvels has stepped down just weeks after a wave of cuts in the firm’s London office saw 32 job losses.

Veteran partner Peter Rogan, who was Ince’s senior partner between 2000 and 2008, has been named interim chairman of the firm’s board. Rogan will oversee the permanent appointment of Heuvels’ successor, in addition to the day-to-day running of the firm.

Heuvels, who will continue working at the firm, had served as senior partner since 2015. Just last October, he relocated to Hong Kong to expand Ince’s Asia-based client relationships.

Heuvels said in a statement: ‘The time is right for me to pass on the leadership baton of the firm and I will continue to spearhead our Asia growth plan from Hong Kong. It has been an honour for me to lead Ince & Co since 2015 and I look forward to working closely with our new international senior partner following their appointment.’

Heuvels’ decision to stand down compounds a period of serious upheaval for Ince, with 25 business services staff and seven fee earners being let go in July. After the redundancies, the firm also said it was looking to sublet 22% of its 35,000sq ft floor space in Aldgate Tower.

The firm also recorded a poor set of financial results for 2017/18, with overall revenues dipping 6% from £88.5m to £83.4m. In recent years, Ince has taken various measures to improve its performance, such as restructuring its partnership and creating a bonus remuneration pool which saw the top of equity jump from £430,000 to £550,000.

Under Heuvels’ leadership, the firm opened offices in Marseille and Cologne and made significant investments in technology to promote agile working.

Rogan commented: ‘On behalf of all our people I want to thank Jan for his commitment to leading Ince & Co over the last three years. As international senior partner he has successfully overseen the delivery of a number of strategically important initiatives that have significantly modernised the structure and working practices of our firm.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

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

Ince & Co to shed more than 30 business services and fee earner jobs in structural shift

Ince & Co to shed more than 30 business services and fee earner jobs in structural shift

Shipping specialist Ince & Co is to cut more than 30 fee earner and business services jobs in a redundancy round touted as ensuring the ‘ongoing success’ of the firm.

The firm launched a month-long consultation process today (June 5) after which between 32 and 36 associates and business services staff will lose their jobs. Business services staff are expected to be most-affected.

Ince’s London office head Andrew Jameson commented: ‘Like all businesses we need to adapt to ever-changing market conditions by ensuring that we have the right people doing the right job in the right location. While the proposed changes that we are making are for the good of our business and the ongoing success of our firm, we recognise that this will be unsettling for our people, who we will be fully supporting during this difficult period.’

The firm’s revenue grew 16% in the 2016/17 financial year, to £88.5m following three years of decline.

It has been making changes in recent years aimed at improving business performance. This includes restructuring its partnership, setting up a bonus remuneration pool which shifted the firm’s equity spread from £140,000 – £430,000 to £140,000 – £550,000, realigning its sector groups and investing in its new premises and IT infrastructure.

Its geographic focus is also shifting, evidenced in senior partner Jan Heuvels’ relocation to Hong Kong in October, with China’s Belt and Road Initiative cited as a key factor in his upheaval. In a similar move, the firm’s chairman, Paul Herring, moved to Piraeus to head up Ince’s Greek office at the beginning of this year.

Heuvels commented: ‘The structural changes that we plan to implement reflect the steps that we continue to make to internationalise our business. This exercise will ensure that we have the necessary support on the ground in the location that it is most needed.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Clyde & Co launches in Hamburg with four-partner Ince team

Revolving doors: Clyde & Co launches in Hamburg with four-partner Ince team

Germany has today (12 February) taken centre stage in the European lateral recruitment market with Clyde & Co announcing the launch of a new office in Hamburg on the back of a four-partner team hire from insurance and shipping rival Ince & Co.

Clyde will be launching its second German office after Düsseldorf later this year, with Ince’s former head of English law Daniel Jones and head of admiralty and energy Eckehard Volz.

Litigation and arbitration expert Tim Schommer and cargo claims specialist Volker Lücke will also join Clyde from Ince, bringing the firm’s Germany partner headcount to six.

Based in Hamburg office since 2008, Jones has been acting for German and Scandinavian shipowners in contentious matters in London maritime arbitration and the English courts. He was also a member of Ince Consultancy, the firm’s non-legal arm launched in 2016 to offer financial, tax and project structuring advice.

Volz joined Ince in 2007 and works on shipping, marine and offshore matters, while Lücke qualified at the firm in 2006 and helped setting up its yacht practice. Schommer joined Ince as a newly qualified German lawyer in 2005 and specialises in in handling shipbuilding, ship repair, yachting and trade disputes.

The news marks the latest chapter in Clyde’s international expansion of late. The firm launched in Los Angeles , Mexico City, Washington and Chicago last year.

As for Ince, senior partner Jan Heuvels said the firm was in a ‘strong position to deal with the increasing mobility of lawyers, which is prevalent within the market’.

‘Over the last two years we have successfully restructured our business, including the adoption of a hybrid lockstep remuneration model that rewards our highest performing partners. This will inevitably result in certain partners seeking other opportunities.’

Heuvels announced the appointment of three new partners in Hamburg. Associates Götz Rahne, Christian Reinert and Martin Malinowski will be promoted to the partnership later this year, meaning the firm will have 13 partners and 23 other fee earners in Germany from 1 May 2018, spread between Hamburg and Cologne.

‘Our Hamburg office is blessed with a depth of talent and events such as this provide opportunities to reinvigorate our team and allow our lawyers to develop further in a collegiate environment,’ added Heuvels.

Meanwhile, north of the channel competition partner Satyen Dhana left CMS last week for Simmons & Simmons’ EU, competition and regulatory group.

Hogan Lovells appointed Tom McFarlane as EMEA head of transfer pricing. He joins from professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, where he led the transfer pricing and tax-efficient supply chain management practice in London. He previously spent six years at KPMG.

Elsewhere Addleshaw Goddard brought its UK financial regulation partner headcount to six with the appointment of consumer finance specialist Clare Hughes will from Eversheds Sutherland and Lorna Finlayson, former head of Burness Paull’s financial services regulatory practice.

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Ince & Co creates London head role as senior partner Heuvels makes Hong Kong move

Ince & Co creates London head role as senior partner Heuvels makes Hong Kong move

Following the recent decision to relocate Ince & Co senior partner Jan Heuvels to Hong Kong, the firm has appointed HR director Andrew Jameson in the new role as head of the London office.

Heuvels, one of Ince’s batch of ‘superstar’ insurance partners who became senior partner in 2014, will depart for the firm’s Hong Kong office next month.

In a statement, Ince said the move was due to the region being prosperous for the firm’s transport, trade, energy and infrastructure and insurance clients. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to enhance connectivity between Eurasian countries, was seen as a key factor.

As a result, Ince felt the need to create an unprecedented London head role to fill the void left by Heuvels’ departure, with the firm’s director of human resources Jameson being appointed.

Jameson has had an eventful history, spending his early career at sea as a Royal Navy officer before qualifying as a barrister. Before joining Ince, Jameson was head of legal services and general counsel to the Navy Board.

Jameson insisted that ‘London remains a key strategic location for Ince & Co and its clients’, and that he takes over at ‘an exciting time in the firm’s development.’

Heuvels added that Jameson’s naval experience will ‘set him apart’ in terms of leadership qualities and stated an intention to continue the modernisation of the firm.

In October 2015, Ince moved into more contemporary premises at London’s Aldgate Tower after a long stint near Tower Hill, a historic maritime location befitting of a firm often regarded as conservative.

As part of the firm’s transformation, this summer Ince announced it will offer its lawyers an alternative career path to the traditional partner track.

Lawyers who show the required competencies are now able to progress up a four-step career programme to the role of legal director, but have the flexibility to make partner later on.

Ince & Co’s revenue grew 16% to £88.5m this year, signalling recovery from a three-year decline, in what Heuvels described as a ‘good year of investment and growth.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

For more on Ince & Co, read ‘Ports in a storm – can Ince get back on course?