Legal Business

‘A third way’: Taylor Wessing enters alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

Marco Cillario assesses Taylor Wessing’s alliance with Silicon Valley royalty Wilson Sonsini as RPC forges US insurance partnership

While the issue of securing a meaningful US footprint for many UK-bred firms endures, Taylor Wessing UK managing partner Shane Gleghorn claims his firm has found the way to gain transatlantic coverage without a complicated merger.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing to enter alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

Taylor Wessing is entering into an alliance with Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.

The UK top 20 firm confirmed to Legal Business today (18 February) that its global partnership has approved proposals for the two firms to co-operate on transactional work in tech and life sciences. It will see its lawyers work together with the Palo Alto-bred firm on matters including transactions with a US and European element.

Taylor Wessing will maintain relationships with other US firms outside the tech and life sciences transactional space. The firm currently has a representative base in Silicon Valley staffed by two partners, one counsel and one associate, as well as a base in New York, but does not practice US law.

Wilson Sonsini launched a small London outpost in August 2018, led by US tech lawyer Daniel Glazer. The firm’s website also lists one counsel and one associate in the City base, which is not practising English law.

Following two years of sluggish growth in the UK, Taylor Wessing posted a strong set of financial results in 2017/18, hiking UK revenue 12% to £144.6m and profits per equity partner 20% to £579,000. Globally the firm, which last year moved from a looser alliance of international firms into a formal verein structure, broke the £300m barrier after hiking turnover 12% to £301.5m.

Meanwhile, Wilson Sonsini posted revenue of $797m for 2017, up 6% on the previous year and making the firm the 53rd largest by revenue in Legal Business Global 100 tables. PEP at the Palo Alto-bred firm was $2.2m, up 12% on the previous year.

For more on Taylor Wessing, see ‘LB100 case study: Taylor Wessing’ (£)

Legal Business

City biz services staff under threat again as Taylor Wessing mulls 34 redundancies

The transfer of business services roles into low-cost bases shows no sign of slowdown in 2019, with top 20 UK firm Taylor Wessing announcing it is considering making 13% of its 270-strong City team redundant by the end of 2020.

The move, announced today (25 January), potentially affects 34 London-based staff and comes as the firm looks to create 35 new business services roles in the Liverpool base it launched last October.

Led by head of real estate disputes Saleem Fazal, the firm plans to grow the headcount in its Northshore office from 20 to 150 by the end of 2020, including new roles and relocations from London.

It is currently considering proposals to move some of its business services functions from London to Liverpool. If implemented, the proposals could lead to redundancies in the City, although the firm said in a statement that all individuals impacted will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Liverpool.

As well as the business support staff, the Liverpool office will host at least ten paralegals and two real estate associates.

The consultation on the plans will launch on 6 February and is expected to last between four and six weeks.

Taylor Wessing managing partner Shane Gleghorn told Legal Business: ‘We want to remain competitive, invest in our business and increase profitability. Many other organisations have the alternative resourcing model. We are wishing to focus on the legal piece and our current sectors of focus. We are not chasing local revenue, it is not about competing with local firms [in Liverpool]. This is very much consistent with our current strategy.’

The news comes in spite of Taylor Wessing posting a strong set of financial results in 2017/18, its UK profit per equity partner rising 20% to £579,000 while global revenue of the verein firm rose 12% to £144.6m.

Taylor Wessing joins a long list of firms announcing reviews of their London support staff amid cost pressure. Last October, Baker McKenzie launched a review of its entire London business services staff, estimated to include around 350 people.

A few days later Bakers announced a new low-cost centre in Tampa, Florida, catering for a similar number of roles.

In July, Ashurst slashed 54 of its 100-strong secretarial team and Ince & Co announced 32 redundancies, including 25 business services staff and seven fee earners.

Hogan Lovells cut 54 of around 500 business services roles in June, moving most of them to low-cost hubs in Birmingham, Johannesburg and Louisville.

Legal Business

LB100 case study: Taylor Wessing

Long-serving managing partner Tim Eyles (pictured) received a nice farewell gift in his last year at the helm of Taylor Wessing, as the firm posted one of the strongest financial performances in the top 25.

The tech-focused shop rode hugely on the boom in transactional activity and the high demand for GDPR advice to grow UK revenue by a solid 12% to £144.6m. Globally, Taylor Wessing – which over the last financial year moved from a looser alliance of international firms into a formal verein structure – broke the £300m barrier after hiking turnover 12% to £301.5m.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing follows northshore wave with 10-lawyer Liverpool launch

Taylor Wessing is joining the growing list of City firms expanding into low cost centres in the UK by launching an office in Liverpool.

The UK top 20 firm’s new base will open in September with an initial team of 11 lawyers and business support staff. Taylor Wessing will appoint a partner to lead the new office and aims to grow the team to 25 by the end of the year – consisting of 10 legal and 15 non-legal roles. They will all be new roles for the firm.

But the jobs of three permanent City business acceptance staff are under consultation as a result of the move. The firm said in a statement affected staff will be given ‘the opportunity and financial support to relocate if they wish to’, and that moving to Liverpool was an opportunity to invest more in the team.

The Liverpool team will initially be working in flexible premises until a permanent office space is found, with the next steps to be announced next year. The office will assist lawyers with opening new client matters, as well as carrying out due diligence and conflict review.

Managing partner Tim Eyles said he saw the new outpost as ‘a catalyst for long-term reinvention to continue to deliver a better service, being smart with our resources and continuing to invest in more people – we will need them’.

He told Legal Business: ‘We did a lot of research and we concluded there is a great pool of talent across the North West, great connectivity and a whole spirit of creativity and innovation around Liverpool as a tech hub, consistent with one of our focus areas.’

The firm chose Liverpool because of the local talent pool, universities and its reputation as one of the fastest growing technology hubs in the country.

The Liverpool launch comes off the back of a strong financial year at Taylor Wessing, which in 2017/18 posted 12% revenue growth to £144.6m for its UK business and 12% growth in its international network to £301.5m. UK profits per equity partner (PEP) grew 20% to hit £579,000.

A number of firms have launched low-cost centres in the UK recently, with Clifford Chance entering Newcastle through the acquisition of Carillion’s in-house legal arm, while Reed Smith opened an outpost in Leeds.

The low cost centres have inevitably impacted City business support staff, with Hogan Lovells announcing last month it will cut 54 of its circa 500 business support jobs in London in favour of new roles in Johannesburg, Louisville and Birmingham.

Ashurst also launched a redundancy review in May which could result in 80% of its 100-strong secretarial team in London being axed, while Pinsent Masons began a consultation on cutting 100 non-legal jobs last year. Ince & Co announced in June it was to cut 30 roles, primarily impacting its business service ranks.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing’s UK PEP shoots up 20% as global revenue exceeds the £300m mark

In another early sign of a good 2017/18 for UK firms, Taylor Wessing has followed up on a disappointing performance last year with a solid 12% revenue growth to £144.6m for its UK business.

In what UK managing partner Tim Eyles (pictured) described as the firm’s ‘best year yet’, UK profits per equity partner (PEP) rebounded to grow 20% and hit £579,000 after last year’s 6% drop to £481,000.

‘We achieved superb growth across our key sectors, especially in technology media and communications, life sciences, and private wealth,’ said Eyles of the last results he will oversee as managing partner. He is to step down after nine years at the helm in October and will be replaced by litigation co-head Shane Gleghorn.

In further evidence that the recent regulatory changes were a good source of business for tech-focused firms in the UK, Eyles also pointed to Taylor Wessing’s work on GDPR as an area of ‘particular success.’

The verein firm’s global revenue grew 12% to £301.5m, again, a stronger performance than last year’s 6% rise to £269.8m.

It was a year marked by changes for the firm. As well as electing Gleghorn last month, the firm appointed a new senior partner in December, with Dominic FitzPatrick replacing Adam Marks after six years.

Gleghorn and FitzPatrick receive a confident handover from Eyles, who took charge in 2009 in the midst of a recession and in the wake of a 7% fall in revenue for the 2008/09 financial year. Eyles is credited with hugely expanding the firm’s international network and giving it a clearer brand, building its non-IP disputes business and its private client offering.

Legal Business

Taylor Wessing finalises leadership overhaul as litigation chief succeeds veteran managing partner Eyles

Taylor Wessing has completed its management reshuffle with the election of the law firm’s litigation co-head Shane Gleghorn (pictured) to managing partner.

Gleghorn succeeds veteran managing partner Tim Eyles, who announced in December he would be stepping down days before the 1,000-lawyer firm elected Dominic FitzPatrick as its new senior partner, replacing Adam Marks after six years.

Eyles had been managing partner for nine years and was widely seen as effective at raising the top UK law firm’s profile and driving international expansion. Gleghorn’s election is effective from October on a three-year term.

Gleghorn joined the firm in 2006 and sits on its UK board. Eyles took Taylor Wessing’s helm in 2009 in the middle of a recession, and is credited with hugely expanding its international network and improving its brand. In the UK, the business grew 41% under Eyles’ watch, viewed as a credible performance for a top 50 practice, despite lagging the kind of expansion seen as broad peers such as Osborne Clarke and Fieldfisher.

Growth has also slowed lately. In the year to 30 April 2017, Taylor Wessing saw profit available for division among LLP members fall to £46.9m from £49.9m, despite a small 2% increase in turnover to £129.3m. The firm’s international businesses largely operate under separate profit centres.

Gleghorn’s appointment follows FitzPatrick’s election as senior partner, effective from December last year. Fitzpatrick is a private equity specialist and former head of the firm’s energy group, who has been a partner at the firm for 27 years.

For more commentary, see ‘Taylor Wessing faces some big decisions post-Eyles’ 

Legal Business

Trio of top-30 firms unveil new partners with Taylor Wessing and HFW boosting promotions rounds

LB100 top-30 firms Taylor Wessing, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and Dentons have all announced their Spring partner promotions covering the UK and beyond.

For Taylor Wessing, it is an increased UK round compared to last year when just one lawyer was made up to its London partnership. This year, the firm has promoted three lawyers to its partnership, with a further five being made up to senior counsel.

Among those being promoted is Katie Chandler, a dispute resolution lawyer who joined Taylor Wessing as a trainee in 2005. Chandler acts for clients spanning the retail, technology and life sciences sectors. Lerika Jourbet, who joined Taylor Wessing from Slaughter and May in 2013, has been promoted into the firm’s banking and finance practice. Edward Story, another Taylor Wessing lifer, has been elevated to partnership in the firm’s corporate division.

Taylor Wessing managing partner Tim Eyles commented: ‘Their original thinking and willingness always to challenge and be challenged are qualities we value just as highly as their technical skill and client relationships – and indeed which we think add to the latter.’

Despite the growth on last year’s partner promotions, the three elevated this year contrasts with the 16-strong UK round Taylor Wessing unveiled five years ago, although 15 of those came in non-UK offices.

Elsewhere, HFW has promoted eight new partners, but with just one in the UK. Alex Kemp, a litigator in the marine sector, is the sole lawyer promoted in London. Last year, the firm made up two lawyers in the capital.

The remaining seven new partners have been made up internationally, with three in Australia, two in Dubai and one each in Houston and Singapore.

Similarly, Dentons has recorded a slump in its London partner promotions, elevating five this year compared to seven in 2017. In a global round that saw the firm promote 36 new partners, Tessa Blank, Simon Elliot, Christopher Graf and Christopher Thomson were made up in London, while Jane Miles was promoted in Milton Keynes.

Early signs are mixed for partner promotions generally this year, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announcing yesterday (4 April) it had promoted a modest five lawyers to its London partnership. However, Linklaters increased the size of its promotions round for the fifth year in a row, adding 27 lawyers to its partnership. Similarly, Slaughter and May saw a dip in the number of promotions, while Hogan Lovells and Pinsent Masons recorded increases.

Legal Business

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

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.’