The Legal 500 UK 2020: Breakdown of Pinsent Masons’ top-tier rankings
Pinsent Masons has topped the list of firms with the largest number of top-tier rankings in the 2020 Legal 500 UK Solicitors Guide.
Pinsent Masons has topped the list of firms with the largest number of top-tier rankings in the 2020 Legal 500 UK Solicitors Guide.
Pinsent Masons has finalised two alternative legal services acquisitions, enabling the firm to launch its flexible lawyering business Vario in the German market.
The main acquisition for Pinsents is temporary resource provider Xenion Legal, which was founded in 2012 and is based in Frankfurt. The firm has also acquired Xenia, a sister company that operates an associated managed legal services business in Germany.
‘We’ve been looking at Germany for a long time,’ Vario managing director Matthew Kay told Legal Business. ‘It’s become a very important country for the firm with our three offices in Munich, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. This was an obvious next step for Vario.’
The move sees Pinsents absorb a team of five in Germany, while adding approximately 100 lawyers to its pool of flexible resource. Currently, Vario has almost 800 lawyers on its books globally, with a presence in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Xenion is one of the few flexible resource providers in the German legal market and has handled over 150 placements in the last three years.
The move also comes off the back of some impressive financials at Vario. Last year the business grew revenues by 50% (adding approximately £5m) while the previous three years saw growth of 30-35%. Vario and Pinsent’s diversity consultancy, Brook Graham, contributed approximately £17m to the firm’s £482m global revenue. Kay, meanwhile, has not ruled out further acquisitions as a means to further grow Vario’s global presence.
‘We’re now trying to consolidate and build up our capabilities. But if you look at a map of Pinsent Masons, we will be looking at all the jurisdictions in which we operate. It’s an interesting development because there’s been lots of activity in the legal disruption market, but this shows law firms won’t just be holding back.’
The Vario business in Germany will now be run out of Frankfurt with Kay at the helm. The Xenion and Xenia shareholders, however, will remain within the business.
Leading US firms have continued to ramp up lateral recruitment in London as Goodwin Procter hired a private equity partner from Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges added to its restructuring bench.
Goodwin hired Kirkland partner Carl Bradshaw to its private equity group. Bradshaw focuses on cross-border private equity deals and has worked on deals including leveraged buyouts, carve-outs, public-to-privates, consortium deals and co-investments.
Goodwin private equity partner Richard Lever told Legal Business: ‘The profile and industry-focus of [Bradshaw’s] client base is entirely consistent with our aim to be the premium mid-market private equity practice in the City operating with clients at the intersection of capital and innovation. We are seeing particular activity in the life sciences, tech – particularly fintech – and business services sectors.’
Meanwhile, Weil added restructuring partner Neil Devaney to its business finance & restructuring practice from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He has experience in cross-border finance, restructuring and insolvency and advises clients on complex, high-value debt restructurings.
Weil managing partner Mike Francies commented: ‘Neil will work closely with our highly regarded team in London and other senior business finance & restructuring leaders around the world to continue to build out our platform in Europe and globally.’
Elsewhere, Taylor Wessing has hired partner Liz Wilson to its tax and incentives practice in London. She joined from Squire Patton Boggs where she was a director. She has experience working on cross-border tax issues within corporate transactions, private equity, commercial agreements, real estate and construction transactions, projects and debt finance.
Taylor Wessing managing director Shane Gleghorn commented: ‘Liz’s appointment enhances our capability, providing more focus for clients and the taxation issues that need to be considered across all of their deals and investments.’
Ashfords has appointed partner Jocelyn Ormond from Simmons & Simmons to its corporate team in its Bristol office. Ormond has experience in advising private equity, venture capital and other funds, public and private companies on mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures, minority investments and equity fundraisings. He will be leading the firm’s focus on healthcare and developing a digital health practice.
Ashfords partner and head of the technology sector and Bristol office Chris Dyson told Legal Business: ‘We see digital health as being an increasingly important focus in the years to come so adding Jocelyn’s specialism to our team puts us in a great position to support this and the wider healthcare market.’
Clyde & Co, meanwhile, hired Janis Meyer, Anthony Davis and Rick Supple from Hinshaw & Culbertson to form part of Clydes’ law firm liability, regulatory and investigations group in New York. Meyer and Davis advise on legal ethics, risk management while Supple is a trial defence lawyer. Clydes launched in New York in 2006 and the latest expansion follows the hiring of a 90-member insurance and litigation team from Sedgwick in December 2017.
Clydes head of the law firm liability, regulatory and investigations group Richard Harrison commented: ‘As law firms have globalised, so too have their legal needs, which is why adding this well respected US team, whom we know well and have worked with for a number of years, is a significant move for us and is part of our strategy of expanding our global advisory and defence capabilities for law firms.’
Finally, Pinsent Masons has hired real estate partner Denis Charles from DLA Piper to its Paris office. The hire follows that of tax and real estate partner Eglantine Lioret and her team who joined the firm’s Paris office in February this year.
Head of real estate at Pinsents, James Crookes, told Legal Business: ‘The appointment of Denis and Elodie is another important step in the growth of our international real estate sector, as we respond to increasing client demand for an integrated, innovative and consistent approach to real estate legal services across a number of key jurisdictions in Europe – one of which is France.’
Pinsent Masons is once again the firm with the most top-tier rankings in the newly released Legal 500 UK Solicitors 2020 guide. The national leader has achieved 69 top-tier rankings across the UK and 163 rankings overall.
Pinsent Masons has launched a client and legal project management division as it continues to ramp up investment in non-legal services.
The firm said today [8 October] it had launched the division of more than 20 project managers, led by head of client and legal project management Dee Tamlin (pictured). That team has largely been built up since May last year and won mandates in the UK, Europe and South Africa, with the firm now looking to invest further through recruitment in the UK, Asia-Pacific and Middle East.
The project managers work both within the firm and externally with clients, with Pinsents placing project managers into client teams on major projects, litigations and transactions, regardless of whether Pinsents is also delivering legal advice on the matter.
Tamlin told Legal Business the firm first recruited project managers in about 2013, recognising that their lawyers had been providing both legal advice and managing projects simultaneously. The early project managers worked in different practice groups to try improve efficiency, but would now operate from a centralised division which will have its own P&L.
Clients had also been demanding training and support on project management for their own legal matters, she said, a service a number of law firms, consulting and project management organisations had already been offering. Typical mandates so far include disputes work, M&A deals, as well as GDRP projects and regulatory changes.
‘Where we can offer something different is that we’re happy to second our legal project managers into our client’s in-house legal department even if we don’t have the legal work on that particular matter,’ Tamlin commented. ‘In a law firm there’s a whole lot of lawyers, in-house legal teams have a whole lot of lawyers, and both of those organisations are doing legal projects. There’s no reason why the in-house legal team shouldn’t need legal project managers to help deliver their legal projects more efficiently to their business.’
Tamlin added that where other law firms could specify that you needed to be a lawyer to be a legal project manager, Pinsents was open to those without a legal background. The firm was also partnering with the Association for Project Management and other law firms to establish a competency framework for legal project managers so that clients would know what they are buying.
‘We know we’ve got our lawyers and we know they deliver great legal expertise and it’s about making sure that those lawyers are supported professionally on legal project management to really put a stake in the ground,’ she commented. ‘We are a professional services firm, so how can we develop the offerings that are not really the delivery of law and legal matters? How can we enhance that? There is a huge investment by the firm in this.’
Pinsents in July said it had ring-fenced ‘significant funds’ from partner profits in a bid to prioritise investing in the business, in turn cutting profit per equity partner (PEP) by 5%. Revenue at the firm for the 2018/19 financial year rose 7% to £482m and gross profit rose 2.5%, but PEP fell to £620,000 from £653,000 as the firm put aside funds for investment in areas including IT and cybersecurity.
It has been steadily building up complementary services in recent years as it positions itself as a professional services firm with law at its core. That includes contract lawyer business Vario, which grew revenue 50% last year and boasts more than 750 consultants, diversity consultancy Brook Graham, and public policy and forensic accountancy units.
Revenue from the firm’s alternative offerings sits at about £17m.
Pinsents senior partner Richard Foley argues the industry needs new benchmarks for success
As Legal Business publishes its LB100, it seems apt to step back and ask ourselves whether the industry is focusing on the right things as it seeks to measure success. It should be uncontroversial to say that if law firms are to work better – for themselves, the wider business community and society – they must be diverse and inclusive of all talents. Measuring that type of success is every bit as important as whether a firm moves up or down a place or two in the financial league table. So, perhaps one measure we should look to in the next year’s LB100 is the progress firms are making in tackling issues of inclusion and diversity?
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.
In a quiet week for lateral recruitment, Weil, Gotshal & Manges hired from Ashurst in the City as other firms made notable moves further abroad.
In London, Weil expanded its banking and finance practice with the hire of Paul Stewart, currently at Ashurst. Stewart has experience in domestic and international finance transactions as well as leveraged acquisition finance and debt restructuring.
Weil London managing partner Mike Francies (pictured) commented: ‘We are delighted to have recruited someone of Paul’s caliber. His expertise and diverse lender practice are a perfect match for our market leading leveraged finance team.’
Meanwhile in South Africa, Herbert Smith Freehills added two partners and their teams to its Johannesburg office, for a total of 13 hires.
The hires included Nick Altini from Baker McKenzie, where he headed the firm’s competition practice, as well as corporate transactions partner Ross Lomax from Norton Rose Fulbright, who joins next month. HSF’s Johannesburg office now has three corporate partners and two competition partners.
Corporate partner Rudolph Du Plessis told Legal Business: ‘Towards the end of 2018, there was a dip from an M&A point of view but we’re expecting it to pick up in 2019. We have seen, in the first part of 2019, an increase on transactions both inbound and outbound. With an enhanced M&A activity there will be enhanced competition activity and there seems to be quite a lot of movement on the African continent in respects to competition law.’
Elsewhere, Pinsent Masons added to its life sciences and technology practice in Dublin with the hire of Michael Finn, who joins from Matheson. Finn, who led Matheson’s IT disputes group and established its life sciences regulatory and litigation practice, has experience in advising technology companies on life sciences and medical device laws, as well as IP litigation and the defence of product liability litigation.
Clare Tunstall, head of life sciences at Pinsent Masons said: ‘Pinsent Masons has a pan European team of lawyers specialising in life sciences and healthcare who advise across a range of IP, transactional and regulatory matters and Michael’s stellar reputation and experience makes him a fantastic addition to our team.’
Finally, Simmons and Simmons has hired George Vlavianos to its dispute resolutions practice in Doha, Qatar. Vlavianos joins from Bennett Jones and has a particular focus on complex energy and construction disputes with experience in advising owners, contractors and sub-contractors on contractual issues.
Pinsent Masons has ring-fenced ‘significant funds’ from partner profits in a bid to prioritise investing in the business, in turn cutting profit per equity partner (PEP) by 5%.
Revenue at the firm for the 2018/19 financial year rose 7% to £482m, slightly ahead of last year’s 6% increase and good for growth of more than 40% over the last five years. Gross profit rose 2.5%, but PEP fell to £620,000 from £653,000 as the firm put aside funds for investment in areas including IT and cybersecurity.
Pinsents managing partner John Cleland told Legal Business the firm had for the past four or five years diverted profit into investing in the business when necessary, but this year it was being ‘more overt’ about it. He expected the move would not be a one-off, although would not specify how much had been held back: based on last year’s equity partner numbers, however, the fund is likely to be in excess of £6m.
‘We’re deliberately signalling that while a significant proportion is going back to the principle stakeholders, the rest of it is being reinvested directly in the business,’ he commented. ‘Once we make investment, then we will redistribute back out to partners, so it’s a prioritising of investment, as opposed to moving away from a full distribution model.’
Cleland pointed to what he called an ‘aggressive’ eight office openings over the past four years as one area of investment, most recently opening its third German outpost in Frankfurt.
Furthermore, in March it appointed Kirsty Dougan to develop the firm’s Vario business – its flexible resourcing offering – in Asia-Pacific, having now launched in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Cleland said that business had seen significant double-digit growth this year and its headcount has reached 600 globally. The firm also has about 50 legal technologists, analysts and engineers in an R&D function it is developing.
The firm’s overall partnership grew by 4% to 446 partners last year. It was also one of the leading firms on the Mindful Business Charter, an initiative it spearheaded alongside Addleshaw Goddard at Barclays to try to mitigate unnecessary stress for in-house and external lawyers.
‘We’ve continued to focus on organic growth in the business, but have also been investing in the services we think broaden our offering. We have a number of things that are important to us as a business and we need to invest in those,’ Cleland commented. ‘We continue to be interested in Europe. Germany’s been a very good market for us.’
Pinsent Masons has secured a £25m preferred-supplier deal with litigation funder August Ventures to offer ‘non-recourse’ funding at better terms than would normally be available.
Clients will have access to a dedicated facility at preferred rates and a fast-tracked due diligence process, while Augusta will also refer some clients to Pinsents.
Claimants will pay nothing if a claim is unsuccessful, and Augusta will fund the cost of pursuing the claim, including lawyer and expert fees, and recover payment from the paying party if the outcome is successful. The fee is reflective of the time taken to make a recovery, meaning the sooner the case settles, the smaller the fee.
Pinsents head of international arbitration Mark Roe, who leads third party funding for the firm, told Legal Business many clients viewed litigation and arbitration as prohibitively expensive. Even those that could afford it often preferred to invest in other areas of their business, he said.
He claims the deal with Augusta will provide clients with access to better prices for litigation funding than were generally available in the market.
‘Our deal with Augusta allows those who either haven’t got funds available or wish to use their funds on other things, to access justice substantially less expensively than would otherwise be the case,’ he commented. ‘What we’ve done is that by agreeing with Augusta that we will prefer them as our supplier they’ve agreed to give our clients much better terms than are generally available.’
Roe added that the disputes market had been busier this year: ‘What’s driving those varies from industry to industry. In the infrastructure space, margins are tighter, and there has been some tightening of the amount of cash available to contractors to pay claims and honour contractual obligations.’
Pinsents’ deal follows Clyde & Co announcing in March it had entered into an arrangement with Litigation Capital Management (LCM), which listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market last December, to make funding available for its clients on a single case or portfolio basis.
That deal landed its first portfolio financing arrangement in June this year, with LCM giving access to funding for 38 worldwide disputes and contractual claims over an initial five-year period for one of the firm’s aviation clients.