Legal Business

Team hire: TLT takes on 30-strong Irwin Mitchell team in Manchester


TLT is putting its fledgling Manchester office at the centre of its UK-wide growth plans as the top 60 LB100 firm takes on a 30-strong Irwin Mitchell team, including former commercial litigation head John Lord.

The six-partner team, who will join the 250-lawyer firm’s six month old Manchester office before Christmas, also includes non-contentious property partner Andrew Bell, employment partner Ed Cotton, corporate partner Jon Close, commercial litigation partner Julien Luke and banking and finance litigation partner Tom Seabrook, along with 24 solicitors, paralegals and support staff.

Servicing predominantly financial services, retail and leisure clients as well as offering wider commercial legal services, the team’s areas of expertise builds on TLT’s existing expertise in Manchester and ‘on a wider footprint nationally’, said managing partner David Pester (pictured).

‘This is a clear marker in the sand about our UK-wide growth intentions. We want to get the right people and the right expertise into the business to deliver for our clients when and where they need us. Adding a team of 30 people, which includes six experienced Manchester-based partners, is a major step towards achieving that,’ said Pester.

He added: ‘We’re capitalising on the opportunity to grow market share, as well as deepening expertise, which is what Manchester is about. We don’t manage or drive the firm by office, we’re very keen that we’re seen to drive the firm by a UK-wide offering. But what Manchester brings with it is clients in the industries that we focus on.’

Having launched in July 2013 with the appointment of former Pinsent Masons legal director and commercial litigator Emma Flower and former DLA Piper Manchester head of commercial law Stuart Campbell, TLT’s Manchester arm is currently nine-strong and includes rated former DLA Piper intellectual property partner Graeme Orchison.

Six-office TLT has been in expansive mode recently, in 2012 opening an office in Belfast and separately in Glasgow and Edinburgh following the firm’s merger with Scottish firm Anderson Fyfe. It saw its 2012/13 revenues rise by 10% from £44.5m to £50m, with financial services counting for 40% of its turnover, leisure for just short of 20% and retail for just shy of 15%.

Lord’s arrival date is still under negotiation, but he is expected to join TLT before the end of the year.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Key hires for Mayer Brown, Sullivan & Worcester, Harbottle, DWF, Irwin Mitchell and Burness Paull


Mayer Brown is continuing to beef up its City offering with its seventh partner hire in two months, as Allen & Overy (A&O) employment and benefits partner Stefan Martin joins the firm, the top 25 Global 100 firm announced last week.

The appointment of Martin – who joined A&O in 1992 and has been a partner at the Magic Circle firm for 13 years, having spent most of his career advising financial institutions and corporates on employment issues – comes as Mayer Brown recently revamped its international strategy, re-grouping around its large international clients and naming London as one of five global sites on which to focus much of its energies alongside Washington D.C, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong.

Also boosting its London capability is Boston-headquartered Sullivan & Worcester, which has made a significant double hire to its City finance team of former Squire Sanders acquisition partner Mark Norris and Dentons trade finance partner Simon Cook.

A former Clifford Chance and Simmons & Simmons lawyer, Norris advises on acquisition finance, structured export credit finance, structured trade and commodity finance in emerging markets, which includes financings in Africa and Europe.

Meanwhile Cook is known for his expertise in structured finance, trade and commodities finance, project finance, receivables finance and borrowing-base facilities in Africa, the Middle East and the CIS, with the UK Legal 500, 2013 describing him as a ‘great project manager’ who ‘gets the job done.’

Elsewhere, Vodafone’s chief of legal, consumer services and terminals Daniel Tozer has made the move back to private practice, joining West End TMT boutique Harbottle & Lewis after nine years at the telecoms giant.

In 2009, Tozer became head of the team providing legal support to Vodafone’s global terminals function, handling the contractual relationships with Vodafone’s mobile handset suppliers such as Apple, RIM, BlackBerry, HTC and Samsung, as well as operating system suppliers such as Microsoft and Google. He notably acted as key legal advisor in the negotiations which brought the iPhone and iPad to Vodafone UK and across the world.

Harbottle’s managing partner Glen Atchison said: ‘Daniel is passionate about helping businesses to create, implement, launch and deliver innovative products and services. Whilst at Vodafone he led on the legal aspects of many of its most business-critical commercial transactions, gaining a level of practical experience that will bring real value to many of our clients and make him an excellent addition to the firm.’

His move comes as expansive UK top-25 firm DWF has also appointed former Trowers & Hamlins local government laws commercial contracts and public procurement partner Michael Mousdale to its Manchester office, bolstering its national commercial team.

Just last month the 984-lawyer firm acquired a 50-strong team from insurance specialist firm Greenwoods, following objections from Aviva that Greenwoods recent merger with Plexus Law may compromise the teams’ work for the insurance giant, which it counts as its main client.

Across the Scottish border and Burness Paull has poached two pensions partners, Martha Quinn and Mark Lindsay, from fellow Scots firm Brodies, who join as consultant and director respectively in the pensions team.

Having formerly worked in the City at Berwin Leighton Paisner, legacy Norton Rose and Wragge & Co, Quinn has been involved in some of the largest public sector, insurance and utilities transactions in the UK, while dual-qualified Lindsay was previously at City firms Slaughter and May and Stephenson Harwood.

Head of the pensions team Sarah Phillips said: ‘These two senior appointments coincide with a period of significant growth for the Burness Paull’s pensions team. We have expanded in Aberdeen with instructions from high profile oil & gas clients and achieved further growth in advising on a string of asset backed funding, M&A/restructuring and banking transactions, pensions litigation, and general company and trustee pensions advice. Our trustee company, Burness Paull Pension Trustees Limited, has seen its mandates double in the past year.’

Legal Business

PI consolidation – Irwin Mitchell acquires Manchester’s McCool Patterson


After becoming the first multiple-licensed alternative business structure (ABS) last August Irwin Mitchell has acquired personal injury (PI) firm McCool Patterson Hemsi Solicitors (MPH), its fourth acquisition in 12 months as the PI market continues to consolidate.

MPH – whose five directors and 24 lawyers and support staff will all join the UK top 25 law firm – will operate as an ABS and subsidiary of Irwin Mitchell from its offices in Manchester and Newmarket.

The acquisition of MPH, which specialises in serious injury, clinical negligence and armed forces work, is the fourth business acquired through Irwin Mitchell’s debt legal services subsidiary Ascent – which offers a debt collection service for insurance groups and banks such as Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC – since the end of last year.

Geraldine McCool, director at MPH said: ‘These are difficult times for victims of personal injury and clinical negligence and their families due to recent funding and procedural changes and we believe that having access to greater resources, ancillary services and like-minded lawyers will help us to help them to meet these challenges. We will also be able to offer them help in other areas of law as they proceed through life.

‘The synergies between the two firms in niche areas such as MOD claims, asbestos-related work and clinical negligence, with clients such as the Communication Workers Union and the commitment to pro bono work is compelling; we look forward to the future together.’

Andrew Tucker, chief executive of personal legal services at Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘This will give us greater strength in depth in an important area for our business and is in line with our strategy to take advantage of the right opportunities available to us now we are an ABS.

‘We already have a very strong position and reputation in the personal legal services sector and we plan to grow our presence still further as and when any future opportunities emerge.’

This is the latest example of consolidation in the PI market, particularly in Manchester, after Australian-listed Slater & Gordon acquired Manchester PI firm Fentons in August and is currently in talks to buy a large chunk of Pannone’s business.

It also emerged this week that Lyons Davidson, which has this year entered into successive joint ventures with Admiral and then the AA to undertake their PI work, is making 50 redundandies, blaming the post-Jackson reform litigation market.

This latest development comes after 11-office Irwin Mitchell – which broke through the £200m revenue barrier at the end of last financial year –made a number of key hires this year, building on 13 partner hires in the previous year, including five into its personal injury services division.

This month former head of litigation for Leeds and Manchester at LB100 North West firm Ward Hadaway Paula Myers joined as head of contentious probate.

In October the top 25 firm also added two partners into its business legal services (BLS) division with former Pinsent Masons litigation head Nigel Kissack and IP partner Alex Newman from Squire Sanders.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Strategic hires for WilmerHale, Eversheds, Irwin Mitchell and DWF


As former co-head of Bird & Bird’s London-based international life sciences sector group and rated intellectual property (IP) litigation partner Trevor Cook joins WilmerHale’s New York office, Irwin Mitchell this week took on Pinsent Masons former dispute resolution and litigation head Nigel Kissack and Squire Sanders IP partner Alex Newman, while in Birmingham, Eversheds and DWF pulled in international rail partner Andrew Herring and real estate partner Melanie Williams respectively.

Veteran Bird & Bird IP litigation partner Cook has resigned after 32 years at the 966-lawyer firm to join WilmerHale’s disputes practice in New York.

Bird & Bird’s IP practice is acknowledged in the Legal 500 as being ‘extremely knowledgeable and technically sound’ with a ‘good commercial outlook’, while Cook is described as ‘a master in the field.’

Key mandates secured by the patent litigation focused group co-headed by Cook include successfully defending ConvaTec against a patent invalidity claim brought by British medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew, and obtaining a ruling for Actavis that proceedings for pan-European declarations of non-infringement can be brought before the English courts.

On his new role, Cook said he had ‘found a new home in WilmerHale,’ which is ‘regarded in Europe as a pre-eminent force in the US IP litigation market.’

Elsewhere, top 20 law firm Irwin Mitchell has signaled its intention to expand its Business Legal Services (BLS) division with two high profile partner hires, including former Pinsents dispute resolution and litigation head Nigel Kissack, who will join the firm’s London office as national head of commercial litigation in early November.

Kissack – a qualified mediator who specialises in resolving disputes for private and listed companies, in the manufacturing, technology, finance, retail and energy sectors – left Pinsents this summer after 15 years at the firm to join South African legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider Exigent as global strategy consultant in the company’s London office. Kissack had worked closely with Exigent since 2009, when he set up Pinsent’s LPO initiative, with the firm becoming the first UK firm to outsource legal work to South Africa.

Joining Kissack at Irwin Mitchell is former Squire Sanders IP partner Alex Newman and trademark attorney Kirsten Doherty. Newman previously led Squire Sanders IP practice in the North of England and focuses on the technology and engineering sectors.

At Eversheds, meanwhile, former Greenberg Traurig Maher partner Herring joined the 1,760-firm in Birmingham at the beginning of this month, working under head of construction and engineering Simon Oats. He has been brought in by the firm to focus on expanding its international rail sector.

Recent mandates he has led include advising Birmingham City Council on the redevelopment of New Street station.

Herring spent seven years as a partner at DLA Piper and was part a group of partners who launched Greenberg Traurig’s satellite office in Birmingham. That office closed in the summer of last year and Herring has been based in London until June this year, since when he has been on gardening leave.

Herring said: ‘Eversheds has got a tier one practice in rail and they want to internationalise that, which is something they want me to focus on. It’s a really good opportunity to broaden out what I’ve already been doing in the international sector with a firm which has a leading practice in the area.’

Also in Birmingham this week, DWF has hired former Squire Sanders real estate partner Melanie Williams, who has over ten years’ experience in the investment and funding of development projects and property tax driven transactions and specialises in utilising property tax reliefs in structuring real estate investment projects.

National head of real estate at DWF, Nic Crocker, said: ‘Melanie is nationally recognised for her niche expertise in structuring and transacting projects using specialist tax incentives, having acted for a number of private equity funds in this area. She is a key addition to both our regional and national teams and her appointment demonstrates our continued commitment to growth.’

Legal Business

Finance: Slaughters, Cravath and De Brauw secure Shell DCM work as Irwin Mitchell wins Wells Fargo as new client


European corporates are showing greater reluctance than last year to tap into the debt capital markets but Royal Dutch Shell this week issued a triple-tranche $3.75bn bond with Slaughter and May; Cravath, Swaine & Moore and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek at the helm.

Slaughter and May’s finance partner Matthew Tobin and tax partner William Watson led a team advising on the issue of five-year, ten-year and 30-year fixed rate notes, which were issued by Shell International Finance and guaranteed by Royal Dutch Shell, which plans to use the funds for general corporate purposes.

Cravath’s team was led by New York-based corporate partner William Rogers assisted by tax partner Michael Schler. Slaughter’s best friend De Brauw was led by London-based corporate partner Ernest Meyer Swantee and included Paul Sluerink, a Netherlands-based tax partner.

The trio regularly work together on bond issues and in August last year advised Royal Dutch Shell on a similar $2.5bn triple tranche bond under its US shelf programme, in the same month advising Unilever on a $1bn bond issue.

Elsewhere, Slaughter’s finance team has also advised Taylor Wimpey, one of the largest residential developers in the UK, on the recently announced successful refinancing of its revolving credit facility. The original facility was due to expire in November 2014 but has been refinanced with a £550m facility that expires in August 2018.

The team was led by finance partner Mark Dwyer and included tax partner Gareth Miles. Taylor Wimpey is a long term client of the firm and Dwyer has helped bring the company’s borrowing under control via a series of debt restructurings and the sale of its US business. ‘At one point the company had over a £1bn in debt. It’s most recent announcement stated a figure of £68.4m,’ Dwyer told Legal Business.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Irwin Mitchell has won new client Wells Fargo in a multi-billion pound deal on the back of the 16-lawyer SJ Berwin real estate team that joined in 2010. The firm advised the leading US real estate lender on the England and Wales due diligence aspects of its £4bn real estate loan acquisition from Commerzbank-owned Hypothekenbank Frankfurt, in a deal that signed last month.

The Irwin Mitchell team was led by real estate partner Rob Thompson, who said: ‘This is the first time we have acted for Wells Fargo, a leading US bank and we are delighted to have advised on such a major acquisition and prestigious deal. The real estate due diligence on a portfolio of this size required immense organisation and careful management to ensure the matter proceeded smoothly.’

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Dechert advised on the overall structuring of the transaction. The A&O team was led by banking partner Arthur Dyson and corporate partner George Knighton while Dechert fielded US-based relationship partner Rick Jones and London finance partner Jeremy Trinder. Tax advice was provided by London partner Mark Stapleton.

Commerzbank was advised by Ashurst corporate partners Nick Cheshire and Rob Aird.

Legal Business

Financial results 2013: LG’s revenue falls for a third year while Irwin Mitchell posts turnover and profit growth


Top 25-firm Irwin Mitchell has today (26 July) posted strong revenue and profit growth for the last financial year, while Lawrence Graham (LG) has posted declining turnover for the third year running.

In its latest results for 2012/13, Irwin Mitchell’s turnover was up by 9% to £200.2m from £183.7m for 2011/12. Profit for the group as a whole is £19.1m, up by 3.1% on the previous financial year. The firm’s profit per equity partner is £619,000 – a 9% increase from last year’s £569,000.

‘2012/13 was another very strong year for our group,’ said group chief executive John Pickering. This is a significant milestone for us but the story does not stop here.

‘This latest set of results shows that we are a strong, well-managed business and on that basis, we are confident of delivering further growth in the coming financial year and beyond. The financial year 2012/13 was the year in which Irwin Mitchell became the first multiple-licensed ABS in the UK and all parts of our business are performing well. We are in a good position to grow significantly and to take advantage of the right opportunities when they come along.’

In contrast LG’s turnover was £51.8m, down 8% on 2011/12’s £56m, which itself was a 5% drop on the year before. PEP has fallen by 14%, from £304,000 to £260,000.

Managing partner Hugh Maule said: ‘The headline figures for 2012/13 reflect what was another challenging year. In a number of areas, however, we performed particularly well and are optimistic for the year ahead.

‘Work from overseas clients again accounts for around 40% of our business. We hope to increase this still further going forward.’

Profitability has also consistently fallen since the financial crisis took hold, with net income tumbling dramatically by 45% last year. At the time the firm laid much of the blame on increased property costs trickling through from its move to its More London offices in 2007. Recently the firm has moved to reduce those costs, subletting 20,000 sq ft of space to recently merged national firm Bond Dickinson.

‘Our London property costs again weighed heavily on profits but this issue has now been addressed. All of our surplus office space has been sub-let (to Bond Dickinson and an international property developer). We therefore expect profitability to increase significantly this current financial year,’ said Maule.

LG revenues may have been on a roller-coaster of highs and lows since 2007 but in the last three years its turnover has steadily declined. Overall, turnover has fallen by 23% since 2008.

In June last year, LG and Field Fisher Waterhouse mutually shelved plans to create a £150m practice, with each firm citing different reasons for the split, including LG’s comparatively lower PEP.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Field Fisher hires Taylor Wessing’s David Kent as Irwin Mitchell and TLT make key hires


Taylor Wessing’s long reputed head of inward investment David Kent is to join Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) in a week that has also seen Irwin Mitchell and TLT make strategic partner hires.

Kent is a corporate partner specialising in advising emerging growth and listed companies from the US, Canada and Europe on structuring, establishing and operating businesses in the UK and Europe, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, technology transfers, distribution and licensing agreements.

A Taylor Wessing veteran, Kent co-founded the firm’s Cambridge office in 2002 and led the merger discussions between Taylor Joynson Garrett and German firm Wessing, which went live in 2002. He later co-founded the firm’s Tech City office in London in 2011.

Kent’s hire comes as FFW has also hired Pinsent Masons legal director George Gillham in its London tax and disputes practice and SJ Berwin senior associate Robin Spender, who will become finance partner.

These are the latest in a series of hires for the firm, including Eversheds’ City corporate partner Neil Matthews last week. However, the firm in May lost a three-partner franchising team led by rated partner Mark Abell to Bird & Bird.

In the north-west, meanwhile, DLA Piper IP dispute resolution partner Graeme Orchison became TLT’s second partner hire to launch its new Manchester office this summer.

Orchison, who specialises in heavyweight trademark, design and patent cases in the High Court and appellate courts, is the latest recruit in an on-going process to build the firm’s base in Manchester’s Spinningfields, which will open with a team of eight, including three new partners and three assistants. The firm anticipates the office, which will initially offer commercial contract, commercial litigation and IP litigation work, will grow to 20 to 30 people within its first 18 months.

Orchison is the second DLA partner to join the TLT Manchester team after commercial partner Stuart Campbell joined earlier this month, along with Pinsent Masons legal director Emma Flower.

TLT’s managing partner, David Pester (pictured), said: ‘These strategic appointments support our aim to deepen our expertise and are in direct response to demand for services from some of our major clients based in the north of England. The launch of an office in Manchester supports our strategy to have a strong UK-wide presence from which to deliver services and also supports our industry sector focus.’

Elsewhere in the north-west, Irwin Mitchell also appointed a trio of partners to its family practice across Manchester and Leeds. Louise Halford joined the Manchester office from Pannone alongside Fiona Turner from London family firm CKFT, while former DWF partner Carol Grundell joined the firm in Leeds.

Halford has 15 years’ experience dealing with complex child disputes cases involving foreign jurisdictional problems and is recognised by the Legal 500 as a leading expert in child abduction cases.

Irwin Mitchell’s head of national family law Martin Loxley said: ‘The vision of the family team is to be the leading firm in complex relationship breakdown in the UK.

‘We are seeing more and more clients all the time approaching us for advice on international matters and we are delighted to be welcoming these new partners to our innovative and growing team,’ he added.

Legal Business

Merger fever grips mid-market


The trend of mid-market consolidation continues apace, with two major non-City players, Mills & Reeve and Thomas Eggar, announcing separate deals to strengthen their national coverage last month.

With the merger of Bond Pearce and Dickinson Dees going live on 1 May and Withers and Speechly Bircham confirming merger talks in March, partners at Mills & Reeve were due to vote at press time on a potential tie-up with Manchester-based George Davies. This news came just days after Thomas Eggar announced its own merger with City firm Pritchard Englefield.

Legal Business

Irwin Mitchell promotes four non-lawyers in record partnership round


Irwin Mitchell announced yesterday (17 April) that it is to promote to partnership four non-lawyers in a bumper round of promotions.

The four will be promoted to rank of associate director, which is the equivalent of partner at the Major UK firm. They are: Manchester-based head of communications, Mark Duffell; head of talent and resourcing, Janet Sandford, and two from the operations team, David Robinson and Danny Varhalamas.

This is a record round of partnership promotions for the firm who last year made up just four including non-lawyer Gary Jackson, who joined the equity. In 2011 the firm added seven lawyers and a non-lawyer, while in 2010, ten were promoted, including two non-lawyers.

John Pickering, group chief executive, said: ‘Our business is growing and in a strong position and this round of partnership promotions reflects the breadth of the high quality, innovative services we provide to our clients.

‘Once again we can also demonstrate the value we place on the role people from non-legal backgrounds play in the success of our firm and the service to the most important people of all, our clients.’

Of the ten lawyers promoted, six come the firm’s personal legal services (PLS) division, one of whom, Sheffield-based serious injury partner Neil Whiteley, will become a full-equity partner after 19 years with Irwin Mitchell.

Fellow Sheffield-based serious injury lawyer, Rachael Aram, is one of five PLS solicitors appointed partner for the first time. Also promoted are two clinical negligence specialists, Sarah Rowland, based in Sheffield and Birmingham-based Luke Daniels who also works with victims of child abuse.

London-based public law solicitor Alex Rook and Rosemary Giles, who specialises in asbestos-related disease claims, complete the quintet.

The other four new partners are part of the business legal services division, including real estate experts Andrew Wallis in Sheffield and Claire Quinn in Manchester; Leeds-based insolvency specialist Doug Robertson; and Daniel Brumpton of Irwin Mtichell’s commercial litigation department in Sheffield.

Thirteen other partners joined the firm’s BLS division earlier this year along with four senior real estate partners appointed in Manchester in February and the recent high-profile hire of former DLA Piper partner Chris Rawstron to head up the business team in Birmingham.

Legal Business

Michael Napier CBE QC – Man for all seasons


Michael Napier CBE QC steps down as chairman of Irwin Mitchell this month after 40 years at the firm.

It’s the end of one long chapter in a career packed with more events than an army of lawyers combined. LB celebrates the career of our 2012 Lawyer of the Year.