Legal Business

‘A record year for us’: Pinsents doubles top-line growth as profit moves up 8%

Pinsent Masons has revealed a soaring 14% increase in turnover from £531.1m to £605.9m, with the rate of revenue growth more than doubling since this time last year.

PEP is also up by 8% to £797,000 which, in contrast to the increase in revenue, is directly half the rate of growth of 16% last year.

Meanwhile, the firm’s new law offering, Vario, has fared extremely well over the past year, with a rapid 38% rise in its overall revenue.

In conversation with Legal Business, recently installed managing partner Laura Cameron (pictured) gave context for the significant acceleration in the firm’s revenue: ‘This has been a record year for us. There is no doubt that the macro-economic environment we are working in remains challenging, but these results are a product of the relentless pursuit of our strategy and a return on the investments we have made over the last few years on cross-border mandates, transactional and contentious work.’

She added: ‘Our strategy to connect people, sectors and geography is also paying off. We have grown in a number of our European markets, including the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain.’

Asked why the rise in revenue is not matched by the same increase in PEP, Cameron responded: ‘PEP growth is slower than last year, but considering the economic headwinds I am really pleased with the increase this year. We have increased our partner numbers, but only by 2%, which is not significant enough to impact the PEP number that much. Costs have, however, increased across the board – for all law firms.’

Cameron highlighted the firms highest-performing practice areas: ‘The contentious part of the business has been really strong. Our global sectors generate about 84% of our overall revenue and we have seen an increase in revenue in our global financial services practice by 22%, as well as 13% in infrastructure, 17% in energy, and 11% in real estate.’

She elaborated: ‘Energy has been the up-and-coming sector for us, which works very nicely with infrastructure. As our clients seek to transition in the energy space, they need expertise in both infrastructure and energy.

‘We are very strong in the UK and do a lot of work regarding renewables, but we are also continuing to develop outside of the UK. In Madrid, there is a huge market for energy and infrastructure. Our growth across Asia has been driven by infrastructure and energy too. Our South African practice was also opened on the back of infrastructure.’

Cameron, who took over the role of managing partner from John Cleland on 1 May, outlined her ambitions and strategy for the firm: ‘We want to remain relevant to clients. That means ensuring that we continue to bring together our different sectors, skillsets and geographical markets. We are our best when we bring those together and service our clients’ needs. Joining up our offices throughout our networks is key for me, as well as focusing on developing the connectivity across the business.’

Questioned whether she has a harder task ahead of her than Cleland had, Cameron asserted: ‘The results I am sharing with you today are his work, not mine. I don’t have a harder job, because since they took on their roles a few years ago, we have nearly doubled our revenue and opened ten new offices across our network. I need to maintain that momentum and continue that trajectory.’


Legal Business

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Legal Business

Pinsents ushers in new era with Cameron unveiled as first female managing partner

Pinsent Masons has elected litigation and regulatory head Laura Cameron as its first female managing partner, succeeding the longstanding John Cleland who steps down after eight years.  

Cameron, who will assume the role on 1 May 2023, has considerable pedigree at Pinsents. During her 28 years at the firm she has fulfilled various leadership responsibilities, and already broke new ground by becoming the firm’s first female board member. Pinsents describes Cameron as ‘an ambassador for gender parity in management positions.’  

Cameron (pictured) told Legal Business that she lent on her experience as head of the firm’s risk advisory division to inform her vision for the firm: ‘It’s the largest group in the firm and has the widest geographic spread. As a result, I’ve had a fantastic exposure in that role to see all the strengths and potential across the network. I see that as our next stage of development – further growth in all our jurisdictions.’ 

For Cleland it is the predestined end of his tenure, having served the second of a maximum of two terms. He can be satisfied with the firm’s progress throughout the period, with revenues expanding by 64% from £323.2m in 2014 to £531.1m this year.  

This led to significant plaudits in recent years – in 2021 Pinsent Masons was named Legal Business’s Law Firm of the Year, with judges impressed by the firm’s desire to match strong financial performance with its commitment to ESG principles, client handling and innovation. 

Reflecting on his stint, Cleland recognised the 64% revenue uplift and the opening of ten new offices, as well as the firm morphing ‘into a truly multinational business with almost a third of our lawyer headcount now sitting outside the UK.’ 

He added: ‘Our achievements have been the result of a clear vision, hard work and having the confidence to make bold decisions. Congratulations to Laura, I’m confident she’ll continue to inspire the business to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.’ 

Cameron hailed Cleland’s impact on the firm, commenting: ‘I certainly have big shoes to fill. John will be handing over the reins with the firm in great shape. It will be challenging to follow in his footsteps but it’s also a great time to take over too – we are in prime position.’    

Legal Business

Lead sponsor message: Pinsent Masons

As we seemingly head from one global crisis to another, the pressure being shouldered by business leaders is relentless. We’re operating in a period where economic uncertainty and the geopolitical environment has left markets unsettled, inflation and interest rates are rising, and where multimedia platforms mean that the scrutiny upon us is not limited to the Board and shareholders. It can come from anyone: our people, our customers, our supply chains, political leaders and parliamentary committees, pressure groups and the world at large. It is a challenging time to lead a business.

Legal Business

The general counsel debate: Walking the talk

Clare Francis, Pinsent Masons: We want to look at the change agenda and what that means for GCs, especially given the unprecedented events that have hit us over the last two or three years which have really disrupted business. Given that our clients are looking at things differently, having different priorities in the boardroom, and seeking to make progress in areas such as ESG and D&I [diversity and inclusion], it will be interesting in our debate to look at how that flows through into what you expect from law firms. To kick off, we thought it would be good to start by asking, what is high up on your priority list today and how have you seen that evolve over the last few years?

David Eveleigh, Serco: Definitely ESG. We at Serco do defence and immigration; if you take defence, this has been an area some investors have been reluctant to be associated with. You have this horrible situation with Russia and Ukraine now, and defence can suddenly be seen as a social good – you have funds that would never invest in defence, now saying defence stocks are investable. ESG analysts and investors may have a very different approach; one will say we are good while another will say we are awful based on the same data. It is probably the variability of ESG that is the biggest issue for us as a company and trying to understand, ‘What should you publish? What should you not publish?’

Legal Business

Pinsents bounces back from Covid with healthy turnover uptick and soaring PEP

Pinsent Masons unveiled an upbeat set of financial results today (6 July), with revenue climbing 6% from £503.3m to £531.1m and profit per equity partner (PEP) jumping 16% from £636,000 to £739,000.

The results represent a rebound after a couple of muted years: in 2020, the firm saw PEP slide 12% amid sustained internal investment. An increased number of partners were minted that year and the firm also splashed out on legal services businesses Xenia and Xenion to strengthen its New Law credentials.

Last year also saw a pacey 16% increase in PEP, but revenues inched upwards by only 2% in results clouded by the pandemic.

Pinsents managing partner John Cleland told Legal Business: ‘We’re satisfied with the results. They indicate a general growth and a validation of our strategy. We are a process-driven business, and we tried hard to advance our professional services capabilities in the last couple of years. We continue to recover from the pandemic despite its various challenges.’

The investment in professional services appears to have paid off, as revenue generated by Pinsent Masons Vario (the firm’s New Law offering) grew by a substantial 41% in the last year.

And PEP was again the biggest cause for cheer. The firm’s partnership numbers swelled from 459 to 478 throughout the year, painting the 16% uptick in an even more positive light. Cleland remarked: ‘We have invested heavily and see the benefit of that coming through. If you get the big things right the numbers will take care of themselves.’

On the investment front, this week the firm launched a 23-lawyer hub in Luxembourg, having secured several partners and their teams from local firm Wildgen. With a focus on the financial services sector, it represents the firm’s seventh office in Europe. Just last year, Pinsents opened a tech and IP-focused Amsterdam office.

Looking ahead, Cleland is optimistic despite global uncertainty: ‘Every year has its own geopolitical challenges. For years people asked me about Brexit and “more for less”. Certainly, we have an inflation problem in the UK, but we have a multinational platform which allows us to soften economic impacts.’ 

Legal Business

Lead sponsor message: Pinsent Masons

Resilience and Recovery

The global pandemic has impacted our lives in so many ways. It’s sharpened our awareness of mental health and wellbeing, reminded us of the importance of connecting with people and re-engaged us with our communities. Businesses too have learned how to operate under the most challenging of circumstances, forced into drastically flexing and adapting to an ever-changing environment simply to continue operating.

Legal Business

Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch

General counsel and other senior in-house lawyers should not be afraid to show their human side when leading their teams through crises and seeking to deliver on business objectives, prominent figures in the legal market have agreed.

There was consensus on the issue among panellists participating in an online event jointly hosted by Legal Business and Pinsent Masons as part of the GC Powerlist UK 2020, as they reflected on the challenges they and their in-house teams have faced during the coronavirus crisis.

The panellists provided an insight into their approach to leadership and highlighted the importance of good communication in not only directing the work of their legal teams but in supporting them through Covid-19 challenges.

Amanda Hamilton-Stanley, GC and compliance officer at Pernod Ricard, said she has been open with her team members about the challenges she has faced in juggling work and home life during the pandemic.’I felt it was incumbent on me to talk about the challenges I was facing … so that you allow people to feel like “I am OK to say this”, “I am OK to speak up” and maybe say “I’m struggling to keep all the balls in the air”,’ she said.

She explained how regular informal meetings with her team have helped her maintain a human element to working relationships despite everyone working remotely.

‘For me personally, having the weekly Friday afternoon coffee chats enabled my team to hear from me, as one of the business leaders, how the business was going, what our response to it was, and get the genuine story rather than just having to constantly read it through a portal,’ Hamilton-Stanley said. ‘They could ask me questions about it. It just gave it that much more personal and human touch to it.’

Dan Guildford, general counsel at the Financial Times, agreed that, with team members working in different locations, communication has been particularly important, not just to ensure the in-house legal team is ‘functioning well’ and getting through their work, but also from a ‘more empathetic’ perspective.

Guildford said: ‘What has really hit home is that we are social animals. Perhaps that is taken for granted a little bit when you are in the office every day, but you have to work a lot harder at it when you are working remotely. You have to lead by example. You cannot assume the team are talking to each other, collaborating with other, without you getting involved and showing some leadership. You can’t just assume those water cooler-moments are just happening.

‘You have got to be authentic about these things when you check in on individuals and ask them how they are. You have to listen, you have to mean it. It cannot just be a box-ticking exercise. We are all really vulnerable at the moment. It is been a privilege, I think, seeing people’s home lives – you get that exposure to kids running around in the background, dogs barking, Amazon parcels being delivered – and you have to really take advantage of that by building on the personal relationships in that kind of way because you haven’t got your moments in the office,’ he said.

Bjarne Tellmann, senior vice president of GSK Consumer Healthcare, said leaders of in-house legal functions need to recognise how the pandemic may be affecting team members’ mental health. He said leaders should be ‘long-term optimists’ and also advocate that team members engage in physical exercise and time away from the desk. He said they should also encourage their team members to engage with projects that ‘transcend markets or locations’ as way of ‘getting people out of their silos, getting people out of their day-to-day reality and connecting them with people across the world’.

Concentrating the efforts of in-house teams around a core purpose can help give direction to their work during times of crises or uncertainty, Tellmann said. ‘Leadership is really, in my view, built around three pillars. The first is around purpose: making sure that you have the right mission, the right strategic priorities and that they are underpinned by solid values that reflect the company’s values and that evolve as the department evolves. Then you put a team that aligns around that purpose. That would be the second part of it, which is about getting the best people you can get and positioning them around the core areas of risk, the key priorities for the business, and then delegate and really create a safe culture for that team.

‘Then it’s about accountability. It’s about that third pillar around making sure people make themselves accountable and you hold yourself accountable as leader. If you adopt that approach it doesn’t really change that much in the current context [of the pandemic],’ he said.

Operations and procurement

In a separate online event on the topic of legal operations and procurement, also jointly hosted by Legal Business and Pinsent Masons and part of the GC Powerlist UK 2020, Helen Lowe, head of legal operations at easyJet, explained how the in-house legal team at the airline had co-created its own purpose to inform how it operates and how this sense of purpose had helped the team during the pandemic.

‘What the purpose has really given us is a real focus, and an opportunity to understand how we are part of the wider organisation as a legal team, what impact we have, and what value we should really be focusing on delivering into the business,’ Lowe said. ‘That is really the importance of that purpose is that it creates that sense of unity, that sense of community within the group and it has made a huge difference to the team.’

Lowe is incorporating principles from the O-Shaped lawyer programme initiated by Dan Kayne of Network Rail into her team’s development. Law firms such as Pinsent Masons are doing likewise.

Mo Ajaz, head of legal operational excellence at National Grid, said that it is important the objectives of the legal functions align with those set by the board of directors. ‘It is important to link what you are doing at a day-to-day level within the legal department to what is going at the strategic level within your organisation,’ Ajaz said.

‘The legal function is there for the purpose of helping the business deliver its services, so making sure we understand that we are not an island, that we are not doing things to the business, and that we are there supporting the business in delivering for their customers and clients, it is important that the legal department then sets its objectives and that there are deliverables that can be measured against that overarching principle,’ he said.

This post originally appeared on Out-Law, the online information service provided by Pinsent Masons

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Insurance Team of the Year

The entries have been assessed, the shortlists have been drawn up and our panel of general counsel judges have had their say: we are now delighted to reveal the winner of Insurance Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

This award recognises the team that has handled innovative work and has attracted the most impressive instructions of 2019 in this constantly changing sector. Judges were looking for one example of standout work – either a transaction, a dispute or even regulatory advice.




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Winner – Pinsent Masons

Pinsent Masons is a worthy winner for developing a successful solution to a crucial, post-EU referendum, regulatory challenge faced by the insurance industry.

Since the referendum, regulators have been calling on the insurance industry to devise a strategy to protect life insurance policies sold in other European countries if, as is expected, there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, passporting rights for UK insurers are removed. In response to this, to lawfully service and pay claims post-Brexit, Royal London formed a new Irish subsidiary, Royal London DAC (RLDAC).

The challenge was that there was no legal framework in Ireland for the ‘with-profits’ products that Royal London needed to transfer. With no legal precedent to follow, the Pinsent Masons team, led by insurance partner Hammad Akhtar and including regulatory partner Iain Sawers and banking partner Nick Gavin-Brown, developed a structure and reinsurance arrangement that gained regulatory approval and enabled with-profits and other business to be transferred to Ireland. Crucially, this included a framework of protection and governance to help ensure that the transferring policyholders did not suffer any material adverse loss of protection. The strategy enabled the transfer of c. £1bn of legacy Irish and German business to RLDAC.

The proposal needed to satisfy the High Court and UK and Irish regulators that it would stand up against any Brexit eventuality, provide the policyholders with appropriate protection and avoid imposing an unacceptable level of risk on RLDAC.

So complex and unprecedented was this structure, that the regulators instructed two top Irish and UK law firms to scrutinise it. Their review confirmed its robustness.

In February 2019, the £1bn asset transfer completed. Not only was this in advance of the 29 March deadline, but it was also ahead of many other major UK life insurers.

As a result, Richard Gordon, deputy group general counsel of Royal London, commented: ‘This was an important project for Royal London and for our Irish and German policyholders in particular. The Brexit context and the nature of some of the transferring business meant that there were a number of challenges and complications, but these were overcome and we achieved our desired outcome. The collaboration between the Royal London team and Pinsent Masons contributed hugely to this.’

Highly Commended – Norton Rose Fulbright

A NRF team, led by corporate partner Nicholas Berry, advised Arch, the Lloyd’s underwriter, on the launch of BlueVault, an insurance protection solution for secure storage of private keys for digital assets and cryptocurrencies, providing coverage of up to $150m on losses of cryptocurrency and other digital assets in ‘cold storage’.

The Blue Vault solution, which was launched publicly in September 2019, was developed in collaboration with broker and risk adviser Marsh. In groundbreaking work for a law firm, NRF provided both legal and technology consulting advice in relation to BlueVault, which included developing a bespoke solution for the relevant risk and the drafting of a new policy form, which – together with various endorsements – had to accommodate the underlying features of the distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

Other nominations

Clyde & Co

Representing Aviva in launching a private prosecution against a fraudulent public liability claim, believed to be the first such prosecution in the UK by an insurance company against a ‘slip-and-trip’ fraudster.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Advising Equitable Life Assurance Society on its extensive restructuring and subsequent sale of the entire business to Utmost Life and Pensions, which combined a solvent scheme of arrangement and a parallel insurance business transfer.

Marsh & McLennan

The Marsh legal team took a lead role in making sure the company’s landmark £4.9bn takeover of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group completed on schedule, in what was the largest acquisition in its 148-year history.

Sullivan & Cromwell

Advising client Assicurazioni Generali on its €600m acquisition of Seguradoras Unidas and its associated service company, AdvanceCare, from companies that were majority owned by Apollo Global Management.

Legal Business

Lead sponsor message: Pinsent Masons

In-house leaders in today’s world are navigating an era of unprecedented change.

Our clients’ businesses span the globe. They operate across a range of sectors, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Over and over again, however, we see the same themes.