Legal Business

Moving on: Pinsents sells early New Law investment to Dow Jones

Moving on: Pinsents sells early New Law investment to Dow Jones

Pinsent Masons has sold one of its earliest New Law investments to financial information giant Dow Jones for an undisclosed sum, citing a need for it to move on for its next phase of growth.

The firm has sold online compliance solutions business Cerico, which it launched in 2013 as a joint venture with IT consultancy Campbell Nash and latterly upped its investment to a majority stake in 2015. Pinsent Masons retains a ‘strategic relationship’ with Dow Jones following the sale, meaning it will continue to provide and be paid for legal content, compliance support and consultancy to Dow Jones clients, when required.

Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley (pictured) said the firm was proud of what it had achieved with Cerico, which he described as being an immense success with clients. He added: ‘As the business has moved toward its next phase of growth, it has been clear that it will need to integrate with a wider range of business and financial data to support the full range of client need. In that respect Dow Jones is the perfect partner to ensure that Cerico achieves its full potential.’

Glasgow-based Cerico provides online ‘know-your-business-partner’ programmes and digital compliance tools for clients including some international FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 businesses, which the firm would not name. Cerico’s chief executive Jim Armstrong and fellow director Julia Salmond move to Dow Jones with the sale, alongside 15 staff. Former executive chairman Richard Masters and co-founder Tom Stocker will remain partners at Pinsents.

Dow Jones head of professional information business Chris Lloyd commented: ‘Cerico is a best-in-class, end-to-end compliance and regulatory solution that is an excellent fit for Dow Jones as we move further into offering fully integrated solutions for our clients. Combined with Pinsent Masons’ expertise in this area we now have a unique and holistic offering to take to the market.’

Pinsent’s LLP accounts for the year to 30 April 2017 says the firm provided services worth £162,000 to Cerico that year, but the firm stressed this was a technical accounting figure and way off the value of the business. Cerico’s most recent financial accounts, for the year to 31 March 2017, say it purchased services worth £320,013 from related parties that year.

Cerico was one of Pinsents’ first investments in New Law, coming at around the same time it launched legal resourcing hub Vario. Since then, it bought a 20% stake in outsourcing business Yuzu in early 2017, and shortly after acquired diversity and inclusion business Brook Graham for an undisclosed sum.

Legal Business

Panel beaters – Balfour revamps Pinsents partnership as Barclays’ buying shake-up signals its last panel contest

Panel beaters – Balfour revamps Pinsents partnership as Barclays’ buying shake-up signals its last panel contest

Is big business turning its back on the conventional legal panel? This month at least sees two prominent examples, with listed infrastructure group Balfour Beatty extending and revamping its sole supplier partnership with Pinsent Masons as banking giant Barclays unveils its final global panel review.

Pinsents today (5 March) announced its sole supplier mandate with the FTSE 250 company had been re-signed until 2020, the second extension to a deal which kicked off in April 2013. The latest partnership, however, has introduced new pricing structures for greater flexibility.

Variable fixed-price arrangements have been implemented for routine projects rather than a single, capped fee for all business-as-usual matters, as was the case previously. Pinsents’ routine work will also generate credits which can be offset against legal spend on more complex work also handled by the firm. These credits could also be used for advice on the design and implementation of legal process technology.

Pinsents infrastructure partner Colin Fraser is the new relationship partner on the deal, which was spearheaded by Pinsents’ head of client strategy, Alastair Morrison, and Balfour Beatty general counsel (GC) David Mercer. Fraser commented: ‘We look forward to working in tandem with the Balfour Beatty legal team to redefine what blue-chip organisations can expect from their legal spend in innovation, value and cost certainty.’

Mercer added: ‘We’ve unlocked significant value for Balfour Beatty through our partnership approach and remain committed to driving continuous improvement. We are now working together on tech-led innovation blending legal service provision, in-house engagement and business system integration that is changing the way we do business and helping us to lead in this challenging market, not least in extracting maximum value from every legal pound spent.’

Pinsents also has a single-supplier mandate with energy giant E.ON for a five-year term. There have been a number of high profile sole-supplier deals, including Eversheds Sutherland with Tyco and Turkish Airlines and DLA Piper with Merlin Entertainments.

Barclays, meanwhile, confirmed a long-anticipated move to phase out conventional legal panels in favour of a more ‘dynamic’ model when its last global panel expires in mid-2021. The banking giant has launched its final formal panel review, which will run on a three-year term from 1 July 2018. Barclays’ previous review in 2016 slashed the number of firms used from between 350-to-400 to less than 140. At the time, external engagement head Stephanie Hamon said the industry was getting hung up on the word ‘panel’.

Hamon’s team has worked over the past two years to develop a new framework for more active management of Barclays’ counsel. Key changes included setting defined expectations against which firms were assessed, phasing out hourly rates, focusing on effective fee arrangements and developing deeper relationships.

The handover led to the bank’s decision to eliminate the laborious process of full panel review procedures. Barclays’ new approach would give the bank more flexibility in managing the size and composition of the firms it uses, adding and removing them when needed.

Hamon commented: ‘Panel refresh processes are not supporting what we want to achieve. What we really want is for our relationships to be a win-win partnership and for all of us to develop, thus helping the legal industry to evolve at pace.’

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

Legal Business

For what they’re worth – Links, 2Birds and Pinsents among law firms disclosing chunky gender pay gaps

For what they’re worth – Links, 2Birds and Pinsents among law firms disclosing chunky gender pay gaps

The UK’s top law firms have begun disclosing figures on gender pay gaps, with an initial round of numbers showing City giant Linklaters has the biggest gulf between male and female earnings.

The Magic Circle firm on Wednesday (7 February) published its figures for gender pay bands, as required under legislation introduced last year, which showed Linklaters paid its male staff members nearly 60% more in bonuses than women. The firm’s female employees were paid on average 23.2% less than male colleagues. The gap widened to 39.1% when the median figure was considered.

Linklaters’ figures were published as three more top 50 law firms today (8 February) unveiled equivalent numbers: Pinsent Masons, Taylor Wessing and Bird & Bird.

Taylor Wessing had the smallest gap, as the average hourly pay was 13.48% higher for men, rising to 32.1% on a median basis. In comparison, female staff at Bird & Bird earned on average 14.5% less per hour than their male counterparts, a figure that grows to 27.6% when earnings are ranked on a median basis.

The average pay gap at Pinsents was significantly higher at 22.4%, which the firm said was due to its regional office network resulting in lower rates for bottom-earners. However, the firm had the lowest median gender pay gap of the group at 22.4%.

CMS has already announced its figures, demonstrating that the average UK hourly earnings rate for women is 17.3% lower than men, while the median average hourly rate was 32.8% lower. CMS had the lowest mean average gap in terms of bonuses at 26.9%, while the firm’s median gap was at 30.4%.

Figures for the group were lower than the mean and median pay gap for the legal sector overall, which the Office for National Statistics estimates at 24% and 25.7% respectively.

The disclosures cover all business support staff and associates and demonstrate the position as of 5 April 2017. All UK companies with more than 250 staff are required to publish such figures by 4 April 2018.

All the law firms profess confidence that they are paying male and female employees the same for equivalent jobs. They gave broadly similar reasons for their gender pay gaps, pointing to the fact that there were more women in less well-paid roles and a higher number of part-time female lawyers.

At Linklaters, women made up 79.2% of staff in the lowest-earning quartile – which includes secretarial and junior business team positions. In this quartile, the pay gap was 5.96% in favour of women. But in the upper quartile of earners at the firm, women accounted for 44.9% and earned 6.5% less than men.

‘We are confident that we pay men and women fairly for equivalent roles,’ stated Linklaters in a formal announcement, adding that there was a ‘more significant gender imbalance within our lower pay quartile’. ‘This also feeds into our bonus figures because the bonus potential for our secretarial and junior business team roles is generally lower than for our legal and more senior business team roles.’

Bird & Bird – where bonuses paid to women were on average 33.5% lower than those paid to men – stressed that the bonus gap also reflected the higher number of part-time female employees. Only two men worked part-time at the firm last year, compared to 60 women. ‘Unlike the pay gap figures, which are based on hourly rates, the bonus figures are the actual sums paid. This means that those who work part-time or have been on maternity leave for part of the bonus year will have lower bonuses than men carrying out an equivalent role,’ said the firm.

Cynics will argue that law firms have ducked the key issue as they are not required to disclose the gap in earnings between male and female partners. And law firms being fond of preaching high standards while taking the low road of pragmatism are collectively taking it upon themselves to report as little as possible. The jaded may also note that years of publishing poor numbers on female partnership ratios has had little discernible impact on the advancement of women.

Legal Business

LLP latest: Taylor Wessing tightens its belt as Pinsent Masons gets expansive

LLP latest: Taylor Wessing tightens its belt as Pinsent Masons gets expansive

The latest round of LLP accounts show profit, management pay and remuneration for the highest earning member all fell at Taylor Wessing, while Pinsent Masons delivered strong growth across the board, pushing its top earner past the £1m mark.

Taylor Wessing’s accounts for the year to 30 April 2017 show that despite a small 2% increase in turnover to £129.3m, profit available for division among LLP members fell to $46.9m from $49.9m. Similarly, the sum awarded to the highest-paid member dropped 11% to £1,039,000 in the same period while pay for key management personnel fell to $5.8m from $6.1m.

Costs rose 6% to £81.6m over the period, offsetting the increase to turnover, and included an increase in staff costs to £45.9m from $44.3m. The number of members rose to 102 from 100, while fee earners increased by four to 292. The firm’s cash pile also fell 36% to £12.3m.

Meanwhile, Pinsent Mason’s first international LLP accounts since its overarching entity was created on 1 June 2016 show the highest-paid member took home 34% more last year, as turnover and profit both improved. Management also got a pay bump following what senior partner Richard Foley described a year of ‘sustained profitability, coupled with strategic investment into our business’.

Turnover at the firm rose 11% to £423.1m, helping profit rise to £134.9m from £117.5m despite an 9% increase in costs. Of the $287.2m in costs over the period, £182.9m related to staff, up 10%, and included a £14.6m increase to salaries over the year. The firm’s cash position also strengthened by nearly 42%, to £64.8m.

The accounts show the highest remuneration of a member was £1,086,951, up from £810,490, while pay for key management personnel rose 16% to £5.95m. The number of fee earners at the firm rose slightly to 1,368 from 1,357, while the total number of members – including equity and non-equity – rose to 357 from 349.

In a report accompanying the accounts, Pinsent Masons said Brexit has ‘increased uncertainty’ for the LLP, but that potential opportunities and risks are being considered and evaluated, which members believe the firm is well equipped to deal with.

Foley said highlights for the year included new offices in Düsseldorf and Johannesburg, as well as taking a minority stake in legal resourcing business Yuzu. ‘Since then we have continued to take steps to grow our business in-line with our vision to be recognised as international market leader in the global sectors in which we operate, as evidenced through further office openings in Madrid, Dublin and Perth.’

Legal Business

Expansive Pinsents ships in four Norton Rose Fulbright partners for third Oz office launch

Expansive Pinsents ships in four Norton Rose Fulbright partners for third Oz office launch

Pinsent Masons is continuing its sustained international expansion drive with a new Australian arm in Perth and the hire of four infrastructure and energy partners from Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF).

The UK law firm’s new Perth branch, to open in the autumn, will be its third Australian office after Sydney and Melbourne and its fifth international launch in the last 18 months.

Legal Business

Pinsents secures £1.3bn Carillion HS2 mandate

Pinsents secures £1.3bn Carillion HS2 mandate

Pinsent Masons picked up the key advisory mandate as embattled British construction company Carillion was handed a lifeline this summer thanks to the award of two contracts worth £1.3bn on the High Speed Two (HS2) project.

Carillion is to build two sections of the UK’s second high-speed rail project from London to Birmingham along with its joint venture partners Kier Group and France’s Eiffage Génie Civil, which will take at least five years to complete.

Legal Business

Belt and road: HSF secures China projects team from Pinsent Masons for huge infra push

Belt and road: HSF secures China projects team from Pinsent Masons for huge infra push

China remains one of the most challenging markets to operate in profitably but the lure of its huge economy continues to lure investment from leading law firms with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) this week announcing the recruitment of three projects partners from Pinsent Masons.

The move – touted as positioning HSF for the Asian giant’s huge infra plans – sees the firm recruit Pinsents head of China Hew Kian Heong, who leaves Pinsents after 22 years. The Beijing-based construction and engineering specialist has advised China’s National Development and Reform Commission and is also an experienced arbitrator.

He is joined by fellow partner Ellen Zhang, who joins HSF after 14 years at Pinsents. She worked in the UK law firm’s London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing offices, before becoming leading partner of the project and finance Asia-Pacific team. Construction law expert Michelle Li also transfers with all three joining as partners. She spent 15 years at Pinsents and has been based in China since 2005, mainly advising Chinese state-owned enterprises.

HSF now has 27 partners and over 170 lawyers across its Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai offices. The Anglo Australian law firm is seeking to take advantage of projects generated by China’s so-called ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to boost trade by improving connections and infrastructure through Europe and Asia.

‘Our firm has already captured a healthy amount of Chinese project and investment work generated by China’s $900bn “Belt and Road” initiative,’ said HSF chief executive Mark Rigotti (pictured). ‘Adding the transactional and disputes experience on complex projects offered by Hew, Ellen and Michelle will complement our existing team perfectly.’

The announcement that HSF is hiring in China comes one day after the news that it has lost a 12-lawyer real estate team in Paris to CMS.

A spokesperson for Pinsents confirmed that three partners will be leaving the firm, adding: ‘While we’re always sorry to see colleagues move on, our platform in Asia-Pacific and strategic focus on Chinese outbound investment has never been stronger. That gives us significant scope for further investment in what remains a key market.’ The top 25 UK law firm also pointed to the fact that its revenue in Asia-Pacific has grown by around 87% in the past three years, and it retains a team of 55 staff in China.

Legal Business

100 PA jobs at risk as technology push leads Pinsent Masons to redundancy consultation

100 PA jobs at risk as technology push leads Pinsent Masons to redundancy consultation

With growing pressure on firms to increase efficiency in the delivery of legal services through technology, as many as 100 legal personal assistant (PA) roles at Pinsent Masons are at risk of redundancy following a consultation launched by the firm.

The consultation will end by November and could affect any of the firm’s UK offices.

The role of team coordinator will be affected by the consultation, however Pinsents will create new PA manager roles, as well as around 50 new team administrator roles, which team coordinators will be eligible to apply for. Pinsents currently operates on a ratio of four and a half fee-earners to every PA.

In a statement the firm said that it has invested significantly in technology and ‘other resources’ and as a consequence ‘resourcing levels among PA staff and the needs of the business are no longer aligned’.

A spokesperson added: ‘For that reason we will be entering into a consultation with our PA team. While it is hard to be precise about the outcome of the consultation at this point, we have not ruled out the reallocation of resource or redundancy of some roles. We will do everything possible to support those impacted during what we recognise is an unsettling time.’

News of Pinsents’ consultation follows a similar move recently by insurance firm BLM.

In June BLM cut 50 overall business support roles following the firm’s investment in technology and flexible working among lawyers. It is understood that voluntary redundancy was offered was to over 300 employees in the firm.

And last October, 180 staff at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer were offered voluntary redundancy as part of a London secretarial support staff review that was expected to bring headcount in the City down to about 160.

As part of the review, PAs were given the option to apply to become executive assistants, a role which involves more responsibility and pay. If PAs were unsuccessful in applying for that role, they were given the choice to either remain as a PA or take voluntary redundancy. Around 40 PAs were promoted to executive assistant in January.

After a subdued 2015/16 financial year, Pinsents broke the £400m barrier with revenues up 11% from £382.3m to £423.1m in 2016/2017. Profit per equity partner (PEP) jumped 14% from £552,000 to £625,000. Excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, the firm achieved like-for-like turnover growth of 7%.

Meanwhile the firm’s 2015/16 LLP accounts, published in January, showed that key management compensation increased 2% from £5m to £5.1m.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: International firms return to hiring season with multiple City and global recruits

Revolving doors: International firms return to hiring season with multiple City and global recruits

International law firms have returned from the summer break in acquisition mode, with Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bird & Bird, Taylor Wessing, Reed Smith and Pinsent Masons all hiring in London and Asia, while Sidley, Dentons and Osborne Clarke are expanding their continental European footprint.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has this morning (11 September) announced the appointment of three new international disputes partners to further strengthen its litigation and corporate risk (LCR) practice.

George Burn joins BLP from Vinson & Elkins as head of international arbitration later this month, while Gavin Margetson, formerly of Herbert Smith Freehills, has been hired to lead the firm’s regional arbitration hub in Singapore. Based in London, Richard Chalk is an international disputes and investigations partner, who was previously at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London and Hong Kong.

BLP global head of LCR Nathan Willmott said these appointments are a direct result of a recent LCR strategy review. ‘The strategy review was an important milestone for us as a department. With so many of the team involved, it’s meant our future really is a collective effort. These hires all demonstrate our intent to get on with the job and start delivering on a global scale’.

Bird & Bird has added to its equity capital market capabilities with the hire of Clive Hopewell and Adam Carling from Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS).

Hopewell will lead the practice expansion in London, building on the Middle East contacts made while heading CRS’s operations in Bahrain. Speaking to Legal Business, he said: ‘Bird & Bird has a very substantial presence in Europe, Asia and Australia. The firm has an established office in Abu Dhabi and an established presence in Dubai. I’ll go there two or three times a year to help introduce them to clients.’

Carling has experience in Africa and has advised on mining deals on the continent. Neil Blundell, head of Bird & Bird’s London corporate group, said the hires would ‘further increase our reputation in the mining and oil and gas sectors’.

Meanwhile, Taylor Wessing turned to Paul Hastings to bring Mark Rajbenbach into its real estate team.

Keith Barnett, head of real estate at the firm – which now has more than 60 lawyers in its core London real estate group and more than 100 working on real estate across the London base – said the addition of Rajbenbach was ‘very exciting for our team, particularly in corporate real estate and the hotels area’.

Rajbenbach was at SJ Berwin & Co before joining Paul Hastings, and his clients have included Invesco Real Estate, Starwood Capital, Evans Randall, Hilton, London & Regional, Schroders and RRAM Energy.

Elsewhere, Reed Smith has hired Leith Moghli as a partner in its global private equity and investment funds practice in London. Moghli left Kirkland & Ellis in April, where he had been a salaried partner since October 2014 in the funds practice.

Pinsent Masons has appointed Chris Richardson to lead its new forensic accounting service (FAS). He joins the firm after 16 years in the fraud investigations team at EY.

In Brussels, Sidley Austin has hired Wim Nauwelaerts from Hunton & Williams. Nauwelaerts advises on EU and international data protection and privacy compliance, including preparation for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

He told Legal Business: ‘Sidley Austin is one of the prominent firms in Brussels and I am very excited about the prospect of expanding their global data protection practice.’

Also in Europe, Dentons strengthened its M&A and capital markets practices with the addition of Shaohui Zhang, who joins as head of the China desk in Luxembourg from Allen & Overy, and Antonella Brambilla in the corporate and M&A practice in Milan from local firm Chiomenti.

Dentons Italy managing partner Federico Sutti told Legal Business: ‘In Italy we see signs of recovery in equity capital markets. Antonella has the standing and the experience to allow Dentons to play a role in this in the near future.’

Finally, Osborne Clarke has announced the opening of a new office in Stockholm, led by Fredrik von Baumgarten and Henrik Bergström. Von Baumgarten joins from his own firm Baumgarten Byström Rooth & Partners and was previously a partner at Nordic firms Hannes Snellman and Vinge, while Bergström was previously at Bird & Bird.

Simon Beswick, international chief executive at Osborne Clarke, said: ‘Not only is Sweden the third most active M&A market in Europe and growing faster than most other European economies, it’s a key market for many of our core sector clients.’

The Sweden office means the firm now has 25 international bases in Europe and Asia.