Legal Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom.baker@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Kennedys opens 36-strong Leeds office as TLT and Clydes expand overseas 

Kennedys opens 36-strong Leeds office as TLT and Clydes expand overseas 

In an expansive start to the new year, UK firms Kennedys , TLT  and Clyde & Co have established new frontiers at home and abroad.

Kennedys has opened its 42nd global office, and its 12th in the UK, with a Leeds launch via the acquisition of Langleys’ insurance team. The new office will be headed up by David Thompson, formerly managing partner and head of insurance at Langleys. He will be joined by three other partners and 32 team heads, lawyers and staff from the insurance group.  

Of the joining partners, Huw Edwards focuses on motor liability matters, Laura Collins manages a team which provides pre-litigated claims handling services to insurers and self-retained corporations, and Carol Dalton acts for insurers on public liability matters.

Thompson commented: ‘It puts us in an excellent position to further grow our practice from our new base in Leeds. Many of our clients already work with Kennedys so I know that it is a move that our clients will very much support.’

The opening comes at an intrepid time for Kennedys, with the firm establishing new bases in San Francisco and Israel last year along with an association with Canadian insurance firm Dalden Wallace Folick.

Meanwhile, Bristol-based TLT has entered into a strategic partnership with Belgian firm GSJ advocaten. The partnership is the second of its kind TLT has pursued on the continent, after a similar relationship was forged with Dutch outfit Holla in June last year.

The partnership brings synergies between the two in key sector specialisms such as real estate, financial services, retail and the public sector. It also gifts TLT a vital post-Brexit Belgian presence, in the heart of the EU.

TLT’s head of international Chris Owen told Legal Business that while Brexit was not a deciding factor in the partnership, it played an important role for clients: ‘A lot of our work is in retail and the public sector, which involves a lot of logistics, which is obviously a big issue at the moment for clients. They want us to have a presence in Europe as that is where they are doing business.’

Owen added that the tie-ups with Holla and now GSJ mark an ongoing demand from clients who want European support. He said: ‘In the long-term we are interested in France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics are interesting from a fintech perspective.’

Finally, Clyde & Co has launched a new regulatory and investigations consultancy arm in Dubai through the hire of Neal Ysart. Ysart, who arrives from EY’s Dubai office, has over 35 years’ experience in investigations, including a 16-year stint in law enforcement, which involved a tenure at Scotland Yard.

The objective of the new consultancy is to provide Middle East-based organisations with an advisory service which recognises, investigates and manages the threat of financial crime and other regulatory risks.

The consultancy is made up of both lawyers and former regulators, and will be headed up by Clyde’s partner and head of regulatory and investigations in the Middle East, Matthew Shanahan.

Shanahan said: ‘Typically organisations have to engage both management consultants and lawyers to achieve their objectives. With Neal’s strategic experience and our team’s broad range and depth of expertise, this new service will provide a one-stop-shop that will save both time and money, and also help ensure that any legal or regulatory concerns are identified early.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk  

Legal Business

‘Doesn’t fit a law firm’: Kennedys looks to prove smarts with IQ technology arm spin-off

‘Doesn’t fit a law firm’: Kennedys looks to prove smarts with IQ technology arm spin-off

Kennedys has become the latest firm to spin off part of its services offering and open up to external investment in a bid to rapidly scale across the globe.

The firm has today (26 February) launched Kennedys IQ, a technology and software services business owned by, but separate to, the LLP partnership. This brings together a decade’s worth of technology and data initiatives, such as its personal injury claims ‘virtual lawyer’ KLAiM, onto a platform it sells to clients.

IQ, which has been a year in the making, initially brings together six tools which automate or manage day-to-day claims processes, including an incident manager, fraud detector, portal manager, defence lawyer (KLAiM), settlement negotiator and recovery manager. The products are already revenue generating, but will now be housed in a separate entity of 30 staff, including developers and data science teams.

The new business will be headed by commercial director Mike Gilpin, formerly director of IT at Kennedys, as well as former head of R&D Karim Derrick, who becomes product and innovation director. Partner and head of the firm’s innovations group, Richard West (pictured), will be a director at IQ alongside senior partner Nick Thomas, while a governance group overseeing the company includes managing partner Suzanne Liversidge.

‘This is about offering our clients alternatives to traditional legal services,’ West told Legal Business. ‘These are products we hand to the client, and the client is running these processes for themselves instead of using lawyers.’

The company was spun off from the LLP for a number of reasons, although West claims external investment is ‘not even close’ to the top of that list. Instead, it was about creating a separate energy and independence from the LLP, while helping bring in and incentivise technology and software staff in a way partnerships struggle to match. For Gilpin, it comes down to ‘sustainability’.

‘We are increasingly radically changing some of our clients’ processes and if they’re restructuring and reorganising their businesses around it, they want to know it’s a sustainable proposition,’ he told Legal Business. ‘We have some feedback from clients suggesting they wouldn’t normally buy these services from a law firm. That means we also have to change our approach, it doesn’t fit that well within a classic law firm.’

Added West: ‘The LLP model is tried and tested for delivering law services, it’s not tried and tested for delivering technology and software services.’

The firm declined to provide growth targets for the business – Eversheds Sutherland set an ambitious £100m revenue target when it launched Konexo last summer – but says a couple of new products are close to release. West also sees the company evolving to provide consulting services and expanding across professional services, rather than being limited to law.

‘It’s about setting our own pace, we’ve been doing this for ten years and naturally reached this point,’ he commented. ‘We’re not distracted by what others are doing.’

Revenue at Kennedys broke through £200m for the first time last year, and has grown turnover 70% over the last five years on the back of expansion into 37 international offices.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Case study: Kennedys

Case study: Kennedys

Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas describes 2018/19 as a year of consolidation: ‘The acquisitions are up and running and, despite those investments, we had growth all over the place throughout the year.’

In 2017/18, this insurance and shipping specialist was hands down the star performer of the 26-50 bracket in revenue terms, recording a 31% rise in global turnover and 14% for UK income on the back of sustained geographic expansion. But, while it failed to emulate that racy performance in 2018/19, with 10% revenue growth to £216m, what is far from average is Kennedys’ five-year track. The firm has grown revenue 68% since 2014 when it turned over £128.5m and has increased headcount by 51% in the last five years on the back of a dynamic international investment drive.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Back to school for new City Clydes, Kennedys and Pinsents laterals as European hires continue apace

Revolving doors: Back to school for new City Clydes, Kennedys and Pinsents laterals as European hires continue apace

City firms have been gearing up for what looks to be a busy September as Clyde & Co, Kennedys and Pinsent Masons have added to their London benches and others continue with European investment drives.

Clyde & Co has appointed Stephen Jurgenson as partner in the firm’s global projects and construction group.

Jurgenson was previously a partner at Winston & Strawn in London and advises on project development and financing, banking and institutional finance, corporate lending and M&A in the utilities, renewable energy, oil and gas, natural resources, real estate and transport sectors.

Clydes partner and member of the global management board Liz Jenkins told Legal Business: ‘We needed to increase our project finance capabilities. We are particularly strong in disputes but we needed a better offering on the front end and Stephen absolutely ticked that box.

‘He will be working alongside our partners and teams in Africa and doing quite a bit of work looking into Latin America as well, which is a very interesting growth area. It’s an exciting time for the team,’ Jenkins added.

Meanwhile Clydes’ head of pensions Mark Howard has left after almost eight years to join workplace pension’s platform Smart Pension as general counsel. Clydes confirmed that partner Terry Saeedi would be taking over as head of the pensions team.

Elsewhere the ever-expansive insurance firm Kennedys has made four partner hires in its professional liability teams across three UK offices, including London partner Paul Castellani from RPC.

In Birmingham, partners Paul Chaplin and Steve Oates joined from DWF. Chaplin was head of professional indemnity at DWF in Birmingham while Oates is also qualified in the Republic of Ireland. Helen Ager has also been hired as head of the professional liability team in Taunton and joins from DAC Beachcroft.

Head of professional liability Jeremy Riley told Legal Business: ‘They all bring new client relationships to us and new specialisms, so it’s grabbing that market share through these hires. What’s been refreshing is that people are knocking on our door as opposed to us approaching people externally.’

Elsewhere in London, Pinsent Masons has hired Fieldfisher’s co-head of life sciences Nicole Jadeja.

Clare Tunstall, head of life sciences at Pinsents, told Legal Business: ‘We were interested in Nicole as somebody who is clearly a preeminent adviser in patent litigation supporting target clients. She’s a likeminded individual with the right skillset, doing really interesting work for exactly the sort of clients we act for.’

Further afield in Paris, Ashurst has hired Allen & Overy counsel Tom Longmuir as partner in its project finance team and Fieldfisher has appointed Emmanuel Paillard from Gowling WLG as partner and head of a new public law team.

Co-head of Ashurst’s global projects Joss Dare told Legal Business: ‘We’re making a consistent push at the moment to grow our international project finance capabilities in strategic locations, and one of those is Paris. We’re looking to capitalise on the opportunities with francophone clients and French banks in particular, who are operating out of Paris into francophone Africa.’

In Frankfurt, Morgan Lewis hired Sabine Konrad to its international disputes team from McDermott Will & Emery.

Konrad told Legal Business: ‘Morgan Lewis has the exact geographical spread that I need for an international arbitration practice, especially with the focus on the Middle East.’

Managing partner in Frankfurt Joerg Siegels told Legal Business: ‘It’s a once in a lifetime chance to find someone like Sabine, with her reputation, recognition, demand and connections into the market. Sabine, from an arbitration perspective, is an excellent fit and addition to the practice.

‘On the other hand it is a new field. It doesn’t mean we give up on our transactional focus. From a strategic point of view, although it’s a new field in terms of practice area, it helps us as a Frankfurt office to connect further with our colleagues all over the world,’ Siegels added.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Kennedys looks to ensure next stage of growth with first managing partner

Kennedys looks to ensure next stage of growth with first managing partner

Kennedys has appointed its first global managing partner following a sustained period of growth which has seen turnover increase 70% in the last five years on the back of expansion into 37 international offices.

Suzanne Liversidge (pictured), who joined the insurance and shipping specialist as the head of its Sheffield office in 2010, was today (20 August) appointed the firm’s first managing partner. She will work alongside the firm’s senior partner of more than 20 years, Nick Thomas, who was re-elected to a fifth term in 2017.

Liversidge is a member of the firm’s global strategy, R&D and innovation boards and leads its Women in insurance network. The managing partner position was established to work with Thomas on the strategic and operational management of the firm: last year its revenue broke through £200m for the first time.

‘Kennedys is a firm with great ambition, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with Nick and colleagues to continue, and improve upon, the excellent work that we are doing in the UK and Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and Bermuda and Latin America and the Caribbean,’ Liversidge commented. ‘I’m honoured to have this opportunity to take Kennedys to the next stage of its evolution working alongside Nick and the global strategy board.’

Thomas added: ‘We’ve experienced significant growth in recent years and there is still much more to achieve as a firm. Suzanne has a deep understanding of the insurance industry, our clients and our global network having worked with all Kennedys’ offices.’

Liversidge became the first female president of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce in 2011, and is a member of the professional network for members of the LGBT+ community who work in the insurance sector, Link.

Alongside an 11% increase in turnover for the year to 30 April 2019, fee-earner headcount at Kennedys grew 7% to exceed 2,000 for the first time. The firm made a number of lateral hires last year, most recently a 10-lawyer team – including two partners – from Norton Rose Fulbright.

The increase in revenue followed the coming together of various investments Kennedys has made in the last few years: the firm merged with US insurance firm Carroll McNulty & Kull in 2017, with revenue in the region up 16% to £35.9m this year.

The Asia-Pacific region similarly saw revenue increase by over a quarter to £35.7m, while Latin America more than doubled to £6.2m, with the firm establishing three new associations in each of the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama in March. Kennedys’ UK revenue was up 8% to £126m.

Thomas told Legal Business in June the firm still needed to fill obvious gaps on the West Coast of the US and in other parts of Europe and would look for opportunities in those areas as they arose.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

No Buzz Lightyear complex as Kennedys’ revenue tops £200m for the first time

No Buzz Lightyear complex as Kennedys’ revenue tops £200m for the first time

Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas will be ‘very disappointed’ if the firm does not have another year of double-digit growth after its revenue broke through £200m for the first time this year.

Global turnover at the insurance and shipping specialist for the year to 30 April 2019 grew 11% to £218m, as fee-earner headcount grew 7% to exceed 2,000 for the first time. The firm made a number of lateral hires last year, most recently a 10-lawyer team – including two partners – from Norton Rose Fulbright.

The firm does not publish profit for a few months while it takes a view on the recoverability of debtors and work in progress, but Thomas told Legal Business he expected the firm’s profit margin and profit per equity partner (PEP) to both improve. Last year, the firm’s profit margin was 17% and PEP £401,000.

Thomas said the increase in revenue followed the coming together of various investments it had made in the last few years. The firm merged with US insurance firm Carroll McNulty & Kull in 2017, for instance, with revenue in the region up 16% to £35.9m this year.

‘It’s been a year of a bit of consolidation,’ Thomas told Legal Business. ‘What we were looking for was for all of the people we’ve brought in over the last year or two to have a solid year at the coalface, getting the clients on-boarded and generating the fees, and that’s what they’ve done. It’s lovely when the plan comes together.’

The Asia-Pacific region similarly saw revenue increase by over a quarter to £35.7m, while Latin America more than doubled to £6.2m, with the firm establishing three new associations in each of the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama in March.

Kennedys’ UK revenue was up 8% to £126m. Thomas commented: ‘It’s very easy to suffer from what I call “Buzz Lightyear complex” and only be excited about the new shiny toys. The UK could be called Woody, we’re very pleased it’s still growing and still bringing new clients in.’

Thomas said the firm still needed to fill obvious gaps on the West Coast of the US and in other parts of Europe and would look for opportunities in those areas as they arose.

‘We’ve got the support of the partnership to go out there and do that,’ he commented. ‘All of the investments that we’ve done over the last few years are still bedding in to some extent and growing, so I would be very disappointed if we’re not double-digit growth again this year.’

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

NRF loses ten-lawyer London insurance litigation team to Kennedys as BCLP hires energy partners from Watson Farley

NRF loses ten-lawyer London insurance litigation team to Kennedys as BCLP hires energy partners from Watson Farley

UK top 30 insurance and shipping specialist Kennedys has raided Norton Rose Fulbright’s (NRF) London insurance bench, recruiting two partners and another eight-lawyers.

Meanwhile, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) hired two energy partners from Watson Farley & Williams and RPC hired a chief operating officer (COO) from Clifford Chance (CC).

In the latest loss for NRF, insurance and marine disputes partners Patrick Foss and Chris Zavos have quit the firm for Kennedys after eight years, alongside counsel Jo Ward, who will make partner in the move.

Foss and Zavos both joined NRF from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert when their former firm merged with Clyde & Co in 2011. Their practice focuses on disputes work in marine, energy, terrorism, trade credit and political risk.

Kennedy’s marine head Christopher Dunn told Legal Business: ‘They are a fantastic team. We have been talking to them for some time, they are close friends of ours and they are market leaders in their sector of marine and energy. It represents a good way for us to increase our market share globally.’

He anticipated further growth in the firm’s 52-lawyer global marine team, with a particular focus on America. The firm recently established associations with firms in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama, expanding its regional footprint to 11 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A spokesperson for NRF said: ‘We have great strength in depth with over 30 partners in our London disputes team, a total of 60 partners across EMEA and 1200 lawyers in our global disputes group. We are committed to retaining a strong profile in London for our insurance and shipping clients across the global network.’

The move is the latest step in Kennedys’ expansion of its marine offering. In 2016 the firm merged with marine and shipping boutique Waltons & Morse and last year it hired a team from Mayer Brown including insurance and reinsurance head David Chadwick.

The firm has also been focused on expanding outside of London over the last two years. In autumn 2017 it launched in Paris and Bangkok after opening in Melbourne that summer.

Last year it opened an innovation back office in India, called Kennedys Kognitive Computing. The firm now counts 37 offices worldwide.

For NRF, this is the latest in a series of losses in London and abroad. In July last year it lost one of its most senior London partners as veteran litigator Sam Eastwood quit after three decades to join Mayer Brown.

In January this year it pulled out of Venezuela, its 26-lawyer local practice joining Dentons, while last year it closed in Kazakhstan and Abu Dhabi and lost its Tokyo corporate team to Paul Hastings.

Meanwhile, BCLP announced the hire of energy partners John Conlin and Rod Chooramun from Watson Farley. Also a former NRF partner, oil and gas specialist Conlin joined Watson Farley in January 2016 from Andrews Kurth, while energy and infrastructure lawyer Chooramun was promoted to partner in 2017.

In a Monday full of announcements, RPC hired CC general manager Alistair Johnson as its new COO. A member of CC’s management team, Johnson was responsible for operational delivery in the UK for five years. Prior to that he was CC’s IT director for London and the Middle East. He is set to join RPC next September as a board member.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

International round-up: Latham hits DLA’s Madrid outpost again for antitrust partner as Kennedys opens innovation back office in India

International round-up: Latham hits DLA’s Madrid outpost again for antitrust partner as Kennedys opens innovation back office in India

Latham & Watkins has dealt yet another blow to DLA Piper’s Spanish ranks, hiring its first Madrid-based antitrust partner, while Kennedys has joined the growing number of firms beefing up their low-cost capabilities.

Former DLA head of competition José Maria Jiménez Laiglesia has succeeded against four other candidates to join Latham’s Madrid outpost, which has almost doubled its headcount in less than a year since bringing in DLA’s former senior partner Juan Picón.

With a nine-strong team led by real estate partner Rafael Molina joining from Linklaters next month, the move means the US firm will have 50 lawyers in Spain come October, up from just 18 when Picón quit his former shop at the end of 2017.

‘The other candidates that showed interest were also good, but the Brussels office which led the process pointed to José Maria as one of the top antitrust partners in the country,’ Latham’s Spain managing partner Picón told Legal Business.

Jiménez Laiglesia’s practice will support Latham’s core M&A and finance operations and will work closely with the firm’s Brussels team. Picón said the firm didn’t plan to expand the antitrust team much further, although it was on the hunt for one associate to support Jiménez Laiglesia.

He is the latest in a long list of European hires by the $3bn firm. Over the last few months alone, Latham has raided the Magic Circle both in London and Germany to boost its transactional prowess.

The quick expansion in Madrid is all the more impressive considering Spain is usually a quieter lateral market compared to its European neighbours.

As for DLA, the firm has lost several partners since the departure of Picón, arguably its most prominent Spanish lawyer. Fellow DLA corporate partners Ignacio Gómez-Sancha and José Antonio Sánchez-Dafos followed Picón to Latham last year too.

It now comprises 81 lawyers including 18 partners, having appointed Joaquin Hervada as new local head of competition. A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘We would like to thank José Maria for the contribution he has made during his time at DLA Piper and wish him all the best for the future.’

Elsewhere, Kennedys has chosen India to strengthen its innovation capabilities by launching a nine-strong business development operation in Kerala.

Kennedys Kognitive Computing will focus on tech development including machine learning and text analytics. Led by Tony Joseph and reporting to the firm’s head of research and development Karim Derrick, the launch of the new company comes after a year-long exclusive partnership with the Kognitive Computing team.

Derrick told Legal Business: ‘The clear differentiator is that the purpose of this team and my primary objective is to produce client-facing products to remove the need to use lawyers in the first place. It’s not about improving efficiency or margins, it’s about helping our clients using lawyers only when they need to.’ He said clients will pay to use products developed by the team on a per-use basis, a model the firm has already applied with its litigation tool KLAiM.

It makes Kennedys the latest in a long series of firms announcing a substantial investment in innovation, as client pressure on costs keeps efficiency high on BigLaw’s agenda.

Perhaps the most significant move of the year was Clifford Chance’s acquisition of the former Carillion Advice Services team in Newcastle.

Closer to home, globetrotting firm Bird & Bird has expanded its Polish dispute resolution team with the hire of PwC Legal head of litigation Adam Kowalczyk in Warsaw. He leaves PwC after two-and-a-half years and was previously an associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges and DLA.

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Who Represents Who: Firms that will be affected by the fall of Carillion

Who Represents Who: Firms that will be affected by the fall of Carillion

For more information on Who Represents Who, contact:
David Burgess,
Publishing Director, The Legal 500
legal500.com/wrw
david.burgess@legal500.com