Legal Business

International round-up: Mayer Brown launches in Japan as Mills & Reeve cements European ties

International round-up: Mayer Brown launches in Japan as Mills & Reeve cements European ties

Mayer Brown will open a new office in Tokyo next year after hiring the former head of Ashurst’s Tokyo office.

Rupert Burrows, Ashurst Tokyo’s former managing partner, will lead a new team at Mayer Brown as it looks to expand its offering in Japan in 2018.

Burrows has been based in Ashurst’s well-established Tokyo practice for the past 20 years, is fluent in Japanese and highly regarded for his oil and gas, chemical and infrastructure work.

Mayer Brown chairman Paul Theiss said the firm wanted to establish an on-the-ground presence in Japan after clients told them it was needed. ‘Consistent with our wider strategic goal to have a strong presence in all of the major financial centres of the world and with our client-led initiative in Japan, we now intend to open in Tokyo in the first half of 2018.’

An Ashurst spokesperson said Burrows was leaving the firm’s Tokyo office by mutual consent, adding that the Japanese business was performing well and that firm intended to grow it further.

In other international news, the instability surrounding Brexit has led to Mills & Reeve formalising two decade-long relationships it has in Europe.

The UK firm said last week it had signed affiliation agreements with Graf von Westphalen in Germany and Van Benthem & Keulen in The Netherlands. The East Anglia-based national firm has worked with each for around 10 years in M&A, private equity, flotations, corporate finance, employment law and commercial disputes. It also has joint legal training programmes and secondee exchanges with both firms.

Graf von Westphalen, which was once part of Osborne Clarke’s European alliance before breaking into separate parts around the turn of the Millennium, has five offices across Germany in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, while Van Benthem & Keulen is based in Utrecht.

Mills & Reeve head of international Tom Pickthorn commented: ‘With the uncertainties and opportunities arising from Brexit, it is more important than ever that we can provide our clients a seamless services in these key markets.’

Legal Business

Property play: Mills & Reeve to add £6m to its topline with Maxwell Winward acquisition

Property play: Mills & Reeve to add £6m to its topline with Maxwell Winward acquisition

In a move to enhance its London real estate team, LB100 firm Mills & Reeve is to tie up with City real estate boutique Maxwell Winward, adding £5.8m to its topline.

The merger with Maxwell Winward will complete on 1 June, adding a total of eight partners to Mills & Reeve’s London office at Monument Place.

A well-regarded specialist outfit, Maxwell Winward will add 22 lawyers to the combined firm in real estate, construction, corporate, dispute resolution and projects. The firm was created in 2007 following the merger of Maxwell Batley and Winward Fearon.

The combined firm brings Mills & Reeve to nearly 1,000 staff and 116 partners in offices in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Manchester and Norwich.

The firms stated the merger will create a firm with combined turnover of around £93m, on top of Mills & Reeve’s posted results of £87m in the year to 31 May 2016.

Mills & Reeve senior partner Justin Ripman (pictured) said: ‘This merger will enable us to substantially grow our presence in the City. It helps realise a key aim of our 2020 strategy to expand our offering to London based and international clients by successfully leveraging our nationwide network of leading legal experts.’

The tie up comes four years after Mills & Reeve tied up with Manchester-based firm George Davies, adding around £7m to the firm’s then top line.

Other tie ups in the LB100 have seen Weightmans in merger talks with Newcastle’s Ward Hadaway, while Stewarts Law are also reportedly in talks with fellow litigation specialist Enyo Law.

Mills & Reeve is also up for national/regional firm of the year at the Legal Business Awards, find out more here.



Legal Business

Differing fortunes: Ince revenue takes another tumble down 4% to £76.2m, as Mills & Reeve sees 7% bump


Shipping and insurance specialist Ince & Co has had another disappointing year financially, with revenue down 4% from £79.4m to £76.2m. This follows on from an 8% drop in turnover last year from £86.7m, which was the worst income drop of all the UK’s top 100 law firms in 2014/15.

UK fee income at the firm stands at £42.8m, down 10% from £47.5 last year. The firm’s international senior partner Jan Heuvels said that the firm had continued to transform and invest in the business.

Heuvels (pictured) added: ‘Examples include the launch of the consultancy LLP, overhauling our remuneration system, moving to brand new offices in London, announcing our new office in Cologne, restructuring our partnership and the appointment of 19 new partners across our network. We exceeded what we expected to achieve financially last year and I am proud of this considering the current challenges in the markets in which we operate.

The last quarter of 2015/16 was our busiest since Q2 2013/14 and we have carried that through into this financial year. I therefore believe that we are beginning to reap the benefits from the improvements that we have made.’

In April the firm confirmed that it was moving away from its traditional lockstep model and introducing a bonus pool above the top of its equity to reward its highest billers.

The changes, which launched on 1 May this year, are expected to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture in a partnership that has historically struggled to keep pace with the changing maritime and insurance legal sector. It is aimed at attracting talent from other firms as Ince & Co works towards building its transactional offering which covers corporate, finance and projects.

Meanwhile, in differing fortunes, fellow LB100 firm Mills & Reeve announced a record turnover figure of £87.2m, an increase of 7% on last year’s figure of £81.6m.

As a result of the strong financial performance the firm also announced the largest ever all staff bonus pool of £1.28m equivalent to 5.2% of the firm’s salary bill.

Mills & Reeve managing partner Claire Clarke said: ‘We are delighted by this strong financial performance which was achieved through growing demand for our services over the last 12 months. It’s also a great tick in the box in terms of our 2020 firm strategy with one of our key objectives to grow faster than the top 100 average.’

Read more about Ince & Co in the feature: ‘Ports in a storm’ 

Legal Business

Life after Kaplan: Ince & Co picks BPP while Mills & Reeve lets its trainees decide


BPP has picked up Ince & Co as a client while Mills & Reeve is allowing trainees to pick for themselves following Kaplan’s announcement it will close its law school.

Apollo Education Group’s BPP has picked up the majority of mandates so far after Kaplan announced in August it would no longer offer LPC courses. The legal educator has so far added Ince, Mayer Brown, Nabarro and Holman Fenwick Willan to its client roster after Kaplan announced its closure. The University of Law (ULaw) had signed former Kaplan clients Shearman & Sterling and Trowers & Hamlins ahead of the law school’s closure while after the announcement Penningtons Manches has said that students can switch this year to ULaw but it will carry out a full review of its options.

Another Kaplan client, Fieldfisher is yet to make a decision on a new provider. A spokesman for Fieldfisher told Legal Business it was in the process of a tender but refused to say which educators were involved.

An Ince & Co spokesman said the firm’s deal with BPP was effective immediately, but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, London trainees at Mills & Reeve will pick their own learning providers following the closure of Kaplan’s law school as the firm said it will not sign with either BPP or ULaw.

Mills & Reeve, which has about 20 trainees per year, had a deal with Kaplan for its London trainee cohort. While six will complete their London courses with Kaplan this year, no trainees in the upcoming year’s intake were planning to study in the capital.

While trainees may choose to study with BPP, ULaw or other providers, following the closure of Kaplan’s law school there would be no deal with a particular school.

Mills & Reeve partner Brian Marshall told Legal Business that while the larger firms had bespoke courses tailored to them which reflected their work profile, Mills & Reeve simply didn’t have the numbers to sign a deal with the major players.

‘Although we do have some unique disciplines, we don’t see an advantage, it would be different if we had larger numbers,’ he added.

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Travers Smith and Baker Botts lead on $1bn demerger; Mills & Reeve and Burges Salmon advise on Co-op farm sale


A healthy uptick in transactional activity has brought a handful of players in line for a windfall, as City-firm Travers Smith and US-firm Baker Botts secured leading roles advising on the $1bn demerger of Paragon Offshore from drilling company Noble Corporation.Elsewhere, UK-firms Burges Salmon and Mills & Reeve landed heavyweight roles advising on the £249m sale of the troubled Co-operative Group’s farm business to charitable foundation Wellcome Trust.

The demerger of Houston-headquartered Paragon, a provider of standard specification offshore delivery units in the oil and gas industry, from international offshore drilling contractor Noble means the company will trade separately on the New York Stock Exchange.

Travers Smith corporate partner Richard Spedding led a cross-departmental team, including tax partner Simon Yates and employment and immigration partner Sian Keall, and employee incentives partner Mahesh Varia. The team provided English law advice on aspects of the deal. UK-based Noble is a longstanding client of Travers Smith, which in 2013 advised the drilling giant as English law counsel on its migration from Switzerland to the UK in 2013.

On US law aspects of the deal, Noble and Paragon were advised by Baker Botts partners David Emmons and Hillary Holmes, based in Dallas and Houston respectively.

Leading the Co-Operative Group deal was Burges Salmon corporate partner Nick Graves and real estate partner Alastair Morrison while Mills & Reeve’s head of agriculture Michael Aubrey led a 40-strong team advising Wellcome Trust.

Constituting the largest open market sale of agricultural land in the UK, the acquisition of the agricultural business arm included 39,533 acres of freehold and third party owned land, 15 farms, and more than 100 residential properties, 27 commercial properties and 255 employees.

Mills & Reeve’s Aubrey said: ‘This was a large and fast moving deal requiring both agricultural law expertise and experience of advising on high profile, complex corporate acquisitions – a combination which few law firms can boast.’

Legal Business

Mills & Reeve adds DLA’s defendant insurance team

DLA completes withdrawal as CMS adds RPC head

Mills & Reeve and CMS Cameron McKenna boosted their offerings at opposite ends of the insurance spectrum in June, taking staff from the Birmingham office of DLA Piper and the City office of RPC respectively.

Top-50 UK firm Mills & Reeve acquired a nine-strong defendant insurance practice from DLA, marking the conclusion of DLA’s withdrawal from the lower margin area of law, as first announced last year.

Legal Business

Insurance: Mills & Reeve takes up last of DLA’s defendant insurance team as CMS snares RPC head

Mills & Reeve and CMS Cameron McKenna boosted their offerings at opposite ends of the insurance spectrum this week, taking staff from the Birmingham office of DLA Piper and the City office of RPC respectively.

Top 50 UK firm Mills & Reeve acquired a nine-strong defendant insurance practice from DLA, marking the conclusion of DLA’s withdrawal from the typically lower margin area of law, as first announced by the top 10 firm last year.

The team, which will start at Mills & Reeve on 1 July and bring its client book, is led by DLA’s former head of the Birmingham insurance group Alan Jacobs, who joins alongside five fee-earners and three support staff.

The sale by DLA comes after its Manchester and Sheffield defendant insurance teams joined Hill Dickinson in late February this year.

Neil Davis (pictured), head of Mills & Reeve insurance sector said: ‘Both we and DLA Piper are convinced this is a positive step for the clients involved, and have worked together to facilitate a smooth transition.

‘Alan’s team have an impressive list of insurance and corporate clients, all of which fit well within our existing strategy for the development of a diversified and corporate focussed insurance offering, across a national footprint. Our strategy is to grow our business in line with our sector commitments, including insurance and corporate services, while maintaining our reputation for outstanding client service. The fact that Alan’s clients have enthusiastically supported this move speaks volumes for the regard in which his team are held.’

The 384-lawyer firm on 1 June also completed its merger with Manchester’s George Davis.

Meanwhile CMS announced yesterday (18 June) that it has recruited RPC’s head of reinsurance and longstanding partner Simon Kilgour to its ranks.

Kilgour advises domestic and overseas insurers and reinsurers on matters including high value and non-standard coverage disputes, and has led numerous high value disputes and arbitrations in London, the US and Bermuda.

CMS managing partner Duncan Weston said Kilgour arrival will add ‘strength and depth to our big-ticket capabilities across CMS.’

Ed Foss, head of the insurance and reinsurance group said: ‘Worldwide, the industry faces a challenging environment characterized by increasingly global competition, regulatory oversight and a rising cost of capital. Now, with CMS’s broad service offering to insurers and reinsurers across disputes and arbitration, transactional, corporate advisory and other key areas, Simon’s experience will be a tremendous asset for this practice and its clients.’

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

Mills & Reeve confirms merger with Manchester firm George Davies


Mills & Reeve today (24 April) announced that it is to expand its presence in the North through a merger with Manchester-based law firm George Davies, after partners voted in favour of the move.

Public sector and sports law specialist George Davies will add around £7m in revenue to Mills & Reeve’s £69.4m, based on 2011-2012 results, consolidating the national firm’s position in the Legal Business 100 rankings where it currently sits at position 47.

The Manchester office, which will operate under the Mills & Reeve brand when it goes live on 1 June, will be part of an enlarged firm of 112 partners and 870 staff operating from six offices in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London Manchester and Norwich.

Guy Hinchley, Mills & Reeve managing partner, said: ‘We are very excited about the potential that our increased scale gives us in the North and the further career opportunities that it creates for the talented lawyers and business support professionals in our enlarged firm.’

Mark Hovell, George Davies managing partner, said: ‘As a well established, profitable, Manchester firm we have had regular approaches from firms looking to establish or strengthen their presence in the Manchester marketplace.

‘We chose to merge with Mills & Reeve as we have a lot of synergy with them and their culture closely reflects ours. This merger will enable us to offer our clients access to a wider range of legal services and specialist sector advice from the Mills & Reeve national practice and international networks and also to pursue new clients who have previously been beyond our reach.’

The enlarged Mills & Reeve Manchester office will continue to be based at 1 New York Street, where both firms are currently based just a floor apart.

Legal Business

Central – Stuck in the Middle


The absence of this peer group’s two leading performers, Mills & Reeve and Gateley, has seen averages for the Central region take on a distinctly ‘average’ hue. The region is now officially the worst performing peer group in the LB100 in revenue terms, a wooden spoon that it inherited last year from the South group and has secured once more in 2011.

The simple fact is that the majority of the firms that have Major UK status dominate this region of the market. Strip them away and what’s left behind are firms that are surviving on scraps.