Legal Business

Stewarts Law latest to sweeten staff with increased pay and incentives


Stewarts Law has boosted pay and incentives for junior lawyers, paralegals and business services staff in a bid to maintain and enhance competitive advantages.

The firm has boosted salaries for all staff, though it declined to confirm exact figures. A spokesperson said the ‘individual pay awards will vary according to a number of factors’.

New incentives for all staff include an extra day off on birthdays and access to private GPs and discounted gym membership. The changes came into effect earlier this month on 1 May.

Managing partner John Cahill said: ‘Every year we’ve taken soundings as to what is competitive market pay. It’s been a gradual process and looking at what benefits would be appropriate. Nothing we’ve done is different – it’s not a revamp, I do it every year. We will review all staff who sit in different bands.’

The litigation specialist is not the only firm making moves to makes sure junior members are happy. Linklaters made a similar move in March and added extra holiday, new bonuses and one day a week working from home for all qualified lawyers following a consultation process. Newly qualified pay was also increased to £91,000 including bonuses and increased annual leave entitlements from 25 to 27 days, while all staff can take an extra day off in the month of their birthday.

Similarly, last year, Mishcon de Reya managing partner Kevin Gold rolled out an initiative where lawyers were able to take unlimited holidays.

Stewarts Law, which was a finalist for Legal Business Awards Law Firm of the Year has had a strong run of late. The firm recorded double digit growth last year of 14% to £53m and has in recent months hired James Price from Farrer & Co to launch a trusts litigation practice in the City.


Legal Business

Stewarts Law latest to develop trusts practice with Farrer hire


Litigation specialist Stewarts Law has hired James Price from Farrer & Co to launch a trusts litigation practice in the City.

Price joins as head of a new trusts litigation practice and has been tasked with building out a team the firm hopes will compete with established players in the market. He leaves Farrer & Co after more than two decades at the firm, with the last 11 years spent as a partner.

The litigator is well known in the market and is rated by The Legal 500 as one of 25 leading individuals in the City for contentious trusts and probate work.

Price is the second trusts litigator to depart from Farrer’s team recently, with Peter Steen departing for Mishcon de Reya at the start of 2015 to build out that firm’s private client practice.

While private client work remains a niche practice, with firms like Farrer & Co, Boodle Hatfield and Charles Russell Speechlys strong in this area, large City firms such as Berwin Leighton Paisner and Macfarlanes have grown their teams in this area with London home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2015. London is home to 80 of the UK’s 117 billionaires, with a combined wealth of £325bn.

Stewarts Law, the UK’s largest litigation-only firm, has been working to diversify its practice areas over the past decade. The last practice to be launched was a tax litigation team at the end of 2014 when the firm hired David Pickstone from Big Four accountant PwC.

Stewarts Law recorded double digit revenue growth in 2014/15, up of 14% to £53m, as its net profit rose 12% to £23m.

Legal Business

Economic recovery will not lead to decline in the disputes sector


We are delighted to sponsor the Disputes Yearbook, which now forms a central part of Legal Business’ wide-ranging and insightful disputes coverage.

There is no doubt that litigation continues to be a dynamic and rapidly developing sector of the legal market. Although there is a possibility that the improving economic climate will have a negative impact on a sector that is, to some degree, counter-cyclical, it is the rise in regulation and enforcement, and the rise in international arbitration, which show no signs of slowing and continue to drive the market.

Legal Business

Stewarts Law posts 14% revenue growth while Watson Farley hits £125m in turnover as trend of solid LB100 performances continues


Stewarts Law has recorded double digit revenue growth of 14% to £53m for the 2014/15 financial year while Watson Farley & Williams announced it had consolidated the strong financial performance it achieved last year with a 7% increase in revenue from £117m to £125m.

Stewarts Law’s top of equity now stands at £1.5m as net profit rose 12% to £23m with managing partner John Cahill saying his firm will retain its dispute focus with increasing emphasis on its international practice. In its 25th year, it can now boast a place in the UK top 70 and is the UK’s largest disputes specialist.

Cahill said: ‘Another very busy year for Stewarts Law with three new partners appointed, a new tax litigation department launched and further strong growth recorded. At the start of our 25th Anniversary year, it was particularly pleasing to see total revenue break through the £50m barrier with profitability holding firm.’

Last year the boutique confirmed a small increase in revenue for 2013/14, up 3.5% to £46.8m from £45.2m in 2012/13. Profits per equity partner stayed at £1.1m, the same figure in 2012/13.

Meanwhile, Watson Farley’s extra turnover is also expected to see partners at the firm receive an income  bump with an 11% rise in their points value. Revenues at the 14-office firm have steadily increased in recent years, with last year’s results showing a 14.6% jump from £102.1m to £117m. The firm broke through the £100m revenue barrier in 2012/13, reporting an increase of 2% to £102.1m, up on the previous year’s £99.8m.

Watson Farley co-managing partner Chris Lowe also said the partners’ rise in point value on last year ‘together with the increase in firm-wide revenue represents another very good year for the firm. We continue to see the benefits of our strategy of investing in our core sectors and increasing the breadth and depth of our services offering.’

Fellow co-managing partner Lothar Wegener added: ‘The increase in profitability is very pleasing in the context of the significant investment we have made in the firm this year. We have opened a very successful new office, brought in a number of notable lateral hires and continue to invest heavily in our systems, infrastructure and technology.’

This year saw the firm make a strategic play to build its debt capital markets offering with the hire of finance partner duo Rob McBride and Sian Withey from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s City office. In September it made investment abroad with the launch of its first office in the Middle East, with asset finance partner Andrew Baird leading to establish a base in Dubai.

Legal Business

Stewarts Law moves to rebuild fledgling employment practice with senior Dentons hire after early setback


Litigation boutique Stewarts Law has moved to rebuild its employment capability with the hire of longstanding Dentons employment partner Richard Nicolle, who joined the firm last week.

The legacy SNR Denton lawyer has over 20 years’ experience in both contentious and non-contentious employment law, acting for both employers and senior individuals.

Speaking to Legal Business, Nicholle, who was approached by Stewarts Law last October, said: ‘I had been at Dentons for 12 years – it’s an excellent firm. I felt that at my stage of career, I was ready for a change and Stewarts Law provides an exciting platform.

‘It’s a firm I had noticed from a distance was on an upward trajectory in terms of the work it does and the quality of its financial performance and management.’

Stewarts Law launched an employment practice in 2010 with the hire of Lewis Silkin partner Gareth Brahams, followed by the arrival of Simmons & Simmons associate Tim Spillane, who joined as a partner. In 2012, Russell Jones & Walker partner Arpita Dutt joined, however, Dutt and Brahams left last year to start their own practice, Brahams Dutt Badrick French, with Spillane appointed as practice head. 

The top 65 UK law firm has a reputation for taking on high profile employment battles, having previously represented 104 London investment bankers fighting for €52 million (£43.9 million) in unpaid bonuses from German banking giant Commerzbank.

Spillane, said: ‘We are committed to recruiting the very best lawyers to meet the needs of our clients. Richard’s appointment strengthens our current market position as a leading employment practice in the UK.’

The firm unveiled a significantly above average financial performance in the 2012/13 year, with a 30% increase in revenue to £45.2m alongside a 25% increase in profit per equity partner to £1.14m, making it one of the strongest performers in the LB100 and pushing it up the table by seven places to 65th place.

At the time the results were unveiled in July last year, managing partner John Cahill (pictured) said: ‘Next year we hope to beak the £50m revenue barrier, and achieve 40% net profit and to form further strategic alliances overseas outside of the US. We are currently in discussions with a number of firms.’

Legal Business

Former Stewarts Law pair to return to SDT after High Court upholds one finding of dishonesty


Former Stewarts Law partner Andrew Shaw has failed to entirely clear his name in the High Court, which has ordered that the struck-off solicitor return to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) to argue over whether one finding of dishonesty against him means he should be re-struck off the solicitors Roll.

Litigator Shaw and associate Craig Turnbull were both struck off by the SDT in February last year, after a private application alleged they misled the court when securing a freezing injunction against businessman Geoffrey Logue.

The case dates back to April 2010, when Shaw obtained a freezing order against Logue for US company The Complete Retreats Liquidating Trust.

The SDT found that the pair’s failure to give full and frank disclosure that the application was funded by a property tycoon with whom Logue was in dispute was dishonest.

Shaw and Turnbull were represented at the High Court by Mayer Brown, which instructed Timothy Dutton QC and Craig Ulyatt from Fountain Court, while RadcliffesLeBrasseur advised Logue together with John Wardell QC and Andrew Mold at Wilberforce Chambers.

Dutton QC put forward six grounds of appeal against the SDT, including that proceedings were ‘conducted in an unfair manner’ and that the SDT failed to properly ‘apply the correct test of dishonesty’ and ‘set out its reasons’.

While setting aside the majority of allegations of dishonesty against Shaw and Turnbull, the SDT will now be asked to reconsider whether an upheld finding of dishonesty in relation to one affidavit means they will be struck off. 

Sitting in the Administrative Court Mr Justice Jay concluded: ‘Accordingly, this appeal must be relisted for short further argument dedicated to the issue of whether the upheld finding of dishonesty on the part of both Appellants in relation to the eighth affidavit of Mr Shaw (and, to the extent it matters, the less serious finding in relation to the misuse of confidential information) renders it inevitable that both should be struck off the Roll.’

In the mean time the SDT’s order striking off the pair has been overturned and a statement from Stewarts Law said: 

‘We are carefully reviewing the Judgment of the High Court following the Appeal brought by former partner Andrew Shaw and former assistant solicitor Craig Turnbull in this extremely complex case.

The Court has overturned the SDT’s decision to strike off both Andrew and Craig and has remitted the matter to a differently constituted SDT to consider afresh the findings set aside and to consider the appropriate sanction for those findings upheld.

We take the matters raised in the judgment seriously. We have an outstanding and unblemished record in high value and complex litigation and will ensure that the errors made in this case are not repeated.’

Legal Business

LB 100 – The second 50: Scattered in the wind


The gulf between success and failure among the firms occupying the second half of the LB100 is as pronounced as ever. From highly profitable boutiques to ravaged regionals desperate for a merger, we chart the haves and the have-nots

Collectively making up just a tenth of the LB100 firms’ total 2012/13 revenue for 2012/13 of £19.1bn, law firms ranked between 51 to 100 in the table can be polar opposites. The gap between high and low performing firms in these two quartiles is as startling, with profit per lawyer (PPL) varying from £177,000 at ascendant litigation specialist Stewarts Law to just £15,000 at the beleaguered Manches.

Legal Business

Litigation drives growth as Stewarts Law sees PEP break the £1m barrier


The success of litigation-focused firms is again in evidence today (3 July) as Stewarts Law announced an increase in turnover of 29.5% to £45.2m for 2012/13 and average profits per equity partner of £1.1m.

The litigation boutique has seen its turnover almost quadruple from £11.9m in 2007/08 while net profit has hit £20.5m, following a year of key lateral hires and international expansion.

Managing partner John Cahill (pictured) said: ‘The last 12 months have seen the firm further strengthened through strong financials and increasing international expansion.

‘In the coming year, we will not stand still, we will launch a new tax litigation department, which will focus on high-profile tax cases and claimants.

‘Next year we hope to beak the £50m revenue barrier, and achieve 40% net profit and to form further strategic alliances overseas outside of the US. We are currently in discussions with a number of firms.’

The London-based firm spread overseas for the first time in May last year, opening offices in New York and Delaware after hiring former Grant & Eisenhofer securities litigation duo David Straite and Ralph Sianni. However, the firm is closing those offices after signing a strategic alliance with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein following talks which lasted 12 months. Cahill said: ‘It is a model that we thought would be better long-term as it encourages collaboration rather than competition with firms like Lieff Cabraser.’

Stewarts made further lateral hires in November last year with the appointment of Manches’ high-profile family law team led by partner Helen Ward. Ward has been involved in a number of landmark cases including securing around £50m for client Guy Ritchie in one of the largest divorce settlements in UK history, following his divorce from Madonna in 2008.

Other litigation-only models to have enjoyed recent success include expansive US litigation boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which saw its turnover rise by almost 18% over the past financial year to $853m.

Legal Business

RBS investors secure litigation funding for action against bank

Third-party funder Argentum has agreed to bankroll a multimillion-pound claim against The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in London’s High Court.

The floodgates have opened for cases against RBS following its £20bn government bailout in 2008, as investors seek to recoup their losses following its nationalisation.

The group of 21 claimants includes a number of UK and international financial institutions and pension funds suing the bank over a rights issue in April 2008, in which RBS sold its shares at £2 per share. The claimants allege that the prospectus on which the rights issue was based was ‘defective’ and contained material misstatements and omissions.

Legal Business

Stewarts Law chases the American dream


London disputes specialist Stewarts Law was shortlisted for Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in February on the back of an outstanding performance during 2010/11. But with revenues up 42%, a profit margin of 41% and PEP of £890,000, you could be forgiven for wondering why it has now decided to open two offices in the US.