Legal Business

Life During Law: David Pester

Life During Law: David Pester

My family background is in market trading, selling goods and services, so perhaps I would have gone into that if not law. My mother worked as a receptionist and my father started out as a rep, including having a bicycle to go around and see the different stores and promote the products. He ended up in marketing and business development in a bigger corporation but that’s where he started.

Home is down on the south coast in Christchurch in Dorset but I went up to the University of Manchester, which was a big deal going from a small place to a bigger one.

Legal Business

New brooms – Asian coup for Bakers as Clydes, HSF and TLT announce leadership changes

New brooms – Asian coup for Bakers as Clydes, HSF and TLT announce leadership changes

Anna Cole-Bailey rounds up the latest management reshuffles at home and abroad

The autumn saw significant c-suite changes announced at Global 100 and Legal Business 100 (LB100) players, with Baker McKenzie voting in Milton Cheng as its new chair in a victory for the Asia partnership, while the figureheads of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), TLT and Clyde & Co will step down to pave the way for successors.

Legal Business

Fantastic platform: TLT managing partner Pester to stand down after 19 years

Fantastic platform: TLT managing partner Pester to stand down after 19 years

Long-standing TLT managing partner David Pester is to be replaced by corporate head John Wood (pictured) after 19 years in the top role.

The Bristol-based LB100 firm said today (1 October) Wood, who has been at TLT since 2000 and head of corporate since 2003, will take over from April next year. Pester will remain at the firm in a strategic role to be specified later.

The firm’s partners were made aware of Pester’s intention to step down after his sixth term as managing partner more than two years ago, resulting in a recent four-week contested election from which Wood received a clear mandate.

‘This is something we’ve been planning for quite a long time,’ Pester told Legal Business. ‘It all seems incredibly natural to me.’

Wood told Legal Business his manifesto was built around continuing and accelerating the firm’s growth. In July, TLT announced its revenue for the 2018/19 financial year was up 7% to £87.6m: 48% higher than in 2014 and more than double its 2012 turnover.

‘This isn’t going to be a major pivot or change in direction,’ Wood said. ‘A change like this can be a stimulus and accelerant to the business. We want to continue to grow with a renewed confidence in what we can achieve.’

Wood, who was already on TLT’s executive board, will work with Pester over the next six months to transition into the new role, after which he will step away from client work. A big feature of the strategy will be building on the firm’s creation of a £500,000 investment fund last year to help test technology and other ideas more quickly before providing them to clients, in an initiative called Future Law which is led by digital sector head James Touzel.

‘The beauty of a transition period is it doesn’t start with a slam on the brakes,’ Wood said. ‘Six months feels like a really long time, the leader of the free world gets less, but when the incumbent’s been in place for 19 years, ensuring that smooth transition for clients, the team and the business means it’s probably about the right time.’

Pester was the firm’s first managing partner when he was elected in 2001, and during his tenure revenue has grown from just £8m, opened six new offices and increased in size to more than 1,000 people.

He said the first half of the firm’s financial year was on track although the market was becoming more volatile.

‘One of the things I’ve learned over 19 years is whenever you go through the different trading cycles there’s always opportunity,’ he commented. ‘I’ve been making sure the TLT balance sheet is as strong as possible to take advantage of difficulties others may face in the market if it becomes more uncertain. John’s got a fantastic platform to work from.’

Legal Business

TLT banks 7% revenue lift as £500k experimentation fund beds in

TLT banks 7% revenue lift as £500k experimentation fund beds in

TLT has its sights on the £100m revenue barrier after adding nearly 50% to its top line over the last five years and having ring-fenced £500,000 to invest in enhancing its offering.

The Bristol-based LB100 firm said today (17 July) its revenue for the 2018/19 financial year was up 7% to £87.6m. That is 48% higher than in 2014 and more than double its 2012 turnover. The firm does not announce an unaudited profit figure but it is expected to have similarly grown: last year, profit rose 22% to £23.4m.

TLT managing partner David Pester told Legal Business the sustained growth at the firm reflected the investment it had made over the last five years. Its financial services sector had seen particular growth, driven by demand for disputes and investigations, as well as open banking, cyber and financial crime.

‘We built a platform in a phase of our development four or five years ago and what we’re seeing is the return on investment we made in terms of expertise deepening and also developing further services in sectors we operate in,’ he said. ‘The results are a recognition that that has been an effective strategy for us and continues to be so.’

The firm made 13 lateral partner hires last year, as well as four partner promotions, and acquired real estate firm Leslie Wolfson in Scotland. It also announced the creation of a £500,000 investment fund last year to help test technology and other ideas more quickly before providing them to clients.

The initiative, called Future Law, is led by digital sector head James Touzel, with the firm ring-fencing the fund as part of its budget for this year. The idea was that dedicated budget and internal resource would allow the firm to try new technology and ideas more quickly, rather than getting bogged down in presenting business cases as part of the normal governance process.

Pester told Legal Business it had allowed the firm to experiment, with the whole firm encouraged to offer new ideas. The firm also takes ideas to clients to see if they want to work with them on various concepts.

‘We as a sector are not very good at attempting things where there are concerns it may not work, we either want it to be right or wrong. We’re not as good at being entrepreneurial,’ he said. ‘I’ve had direct feedback from general counsel that they like a process where they can be involved in helping us help them develop new ideas.’

The firm now expects to surpass £100m in revenue in its next stage of growth. It will also be strengthening its balance sheet to ensure it had options in the future.

‘People have been trying to predict for the last three years whether or not there’s going to be some kind of affect as a consequence of political uncertainty and wider economic challenges, but at the moment it’s just too difficult to read,’ Pester commented. ‘It’s all about having options, you can only respond to competitors and the market, you don’t control those aspects.’

Legal Business

Ashurst makes up eight in the City amid reduced global round as DAC Beachcroft mints 19, RPC six and TLT four

Ashurst makes up eight in the City amid reduced global round as DAC Beachcroft mints 19, RPC six and TLT four

Ashurst has promoted 21 partners globally, including eight in London, after a slightly reduced promotion round which saw Australia and the UK pick up the lion’s share of new partners. DAC Beachcroft, meanwhile, promoted 19 to partner in a significantly bolstered global round while RPC minted six in the UK and TLT promoted four.

In London, Ashurst promoted corporate lawyers Braeden Donnelly, Gaby Jones and Aaron Shute. In tax, meanwhile, the firm promoted Tim Gummer and in competition the firm made up Steven Vaz. Tim Edmonds and Nicholas Hilder were also promoted in global markets and projects respectively, while Emma Johnson was made a disputes partner.

The round is good news for the firm’s diversity numbers, as the promotions will see 25% of the firm’s partnership be female as of 1 May when the promotions take effect.

Overall promotion numbers are marginally down on last year, when the firm made up 24 lawyers globally, including nine promoted in the City. Australia made up the majority of this year’s promotions with nine new partner, while one partner apiece went to Germany, France, Hong Kong and UAE.

Ashurst global managing partner Paul Jenkins commented: ‘The firm is delivering an impressive level of performance and this has enabled us to make a good number of promotions across our offices and practices.’

DAC Beachcroft, meanwhile, announced today (30 April) a significantly increased promotion round. Nineteen new partners have been made up at the firm, an increase of 11 from last year. Four of the new partners are in the City, three of which are in insurance litigation, with the fourth in claims solutions. In the regions, the firm made up four lawyers in Leeds, three in Bristol, two in Newcastle and Birmingham and one in Manchester. Abroad, the firm promoted a single lawyer in Dublin, Madrid and Mexico City.

RPC also announced its promotion round today, with six new partners made up in the UK across its London and Bristol offices.

Commercial lawyer Charles Buckworth, IP lawyer Ben Mark, corporate lawyer Peter Sugden, litigator Alan Williams and tax disputes lawyer Robert Waterson were all made up in London. Professional indemnity lawyer, Rachael Healey, was minted in Bristol.

Finally, TLT has made four partner promotions, down from last year’s six. Commercial lawyer Kuldip Dhanoya, regulatory lawyer Duncan Reed, corporate lawyer Nina Searle and housing lawyer Shazia Bashir were all promoted this year.

Ashurst partner promotions in full:


Anita Choi – Corporate, Sydney

James Clarke – Dispute Resolution, Melbourne

Gerrit Clasen – Corporate, Frankfurt

Rebecca Cope – Digital Economy, Sydney

Yvonne Cross – Projects, Dubai

Jacques Dabreteau – Projects, Paris

Madeleine de Garis – Global Loans, Melbourne

Braeden Donnelly – Corporate, London

Tim Edmonds – Global Markets, London

Melissa Fraser – Competition, Sydney

Tim Gummer – Tax, London

Nicholas Hilder – Projects, London

Emma Johnson (née Martin) – Dispute Resolution, London

Gaby Jones – Corporate, London

Caroline Lindsey – Projects, Perth

Dean Moroz – Investment Funds, Hong Kong

Aaron Shute – Corporate, London

Elissa Speight – Employment, Canberra

Julia Sutherland – Employment, Perth

Lynda Tully – Corporate, Melbourne

Steven Vaz – Competition, London

DAC Beachcroft partner promotions in full:


Sophie Lawless – Claims Solutions, Birmingham

Kevan Smith – Claims Solutions, Birmingham

Stan Campbell – Real Estate, Bristol

Sara Eaton – Clinical Risk, Bristol

Louise Wiltshire – Healthcare Regulatory, Bristol

Niamh McKeever – Professional Liability, Dublin

Jeremy Bennett – Claims Solutions, Leeds

Shruti Brockett – Business Services, Leeds

Charlotte Le Maire – Claims Solutions, Leeds

Paul McGough – Healthcare Regulatory, Leeds

Sarah Crowther – Insurance Litigation, London

Olu Dansu – Insurance Litigation, London

Andrew Sheppard – Claims Solutions, London

Toby Vallance – Insurance Litigation, London

Pilar Rodríguez – Insurance Litigation, Madrid

Morgan Nash – Claims Solutions, Manchester

Emma Bowens – Claims Solutions, Newcastle

Dawn McIntosh – Clinical Risk, Newcastle

Salvador Enrique Urbano Tejeda – Insurance litigation, Mexico City

RPC partner promotions in full:


Charles Buckworth – commercial, London

Ben Mark – intellectual property, London

Peter Sugden – corporate, London

Alan Williams – commercial litigation, London

Robert Waterson – tax disputes, London

Rachel Healey – professional indemnity, Bristol

TLT partner promotions in full:


Kuldip Dhanoya – commercial

Duncan Reed – regulatory

Nina Searle – corporate

Shazia Bashir – housing

Legal Business

‘Legal catching up’: TLT launches £500k fund to improve tech and consulting lines

‘Legal catching up’: TLT launches £500k fund to improve tech and consulting lines

TLT has created a £500,000 investment fund to help test technology and other ideas more quickly before providing them to clients.

The initiative, called Future Law, is expected to generate revenue this year and will be led by digital sector head James Touzel. The firm has ring-fenced the fund as part of its budget for this year.

Touzel told Legal Business that dedicated budget and internal resource would allow it to try new technology and ideas more quickly than getting bogged down in presenting business cases as part of the normal governance process. The firm’s business services professionals and fee earners will be involved.

‘If you’re doing innovation no one has a clue what the return on investment is yet, that’s the whole point,’ he said. ‘This will be an educated playing around: identifying the client need, trying a few things out, getting the one that works and rolling it out.’

Future Law will complement TLT’s captive shared services centre, launched in 2015, and a regulatory consulting service it launched in the last year with the hire of former BT regulatory affairs director Stuart Murray. The firm also partnered with AI contract review company LegalSifter last December, taking a minority stake in the business.

Touzel said Future Law was implemented in response to changing client expectations in the last year or so. The largest clients had effectively built their own law firms in-house and were facing the same challenges around people, process and technology that law firms had faced for decades.

‘There is no reason why a law firm cannot, and should not, be a consultant on how to run in-house legal functions. The next change will come in advising which technology to use. What’s the best e-discovery platform? We should be able to answer that question.’

TLT will resell technology to clients, similar to the LegalSift partnership. It wants to partner with other early stage tech companies to improve their products, as well as advise and sell mature technology in areas it could be used more effectively.

Touzel said there would be a few early wins this year around new offerings in e-discovery and contract automation, but the aspiration was to create multiple business models at the firm by selling more technology and more consultancy services. The firm’s revenue rose 10% to £82m in the most recent financial year.

‘The consistent message from clients is that they are getting increasingly frustrated with law firms bringing forward products that they don’t need. We’re trying to start off on the right foot,’ Touzel said. ‘This isn’t a model I’ve invented, it happens in other industries: it’s just legal catching up.’

Legal Business

Firms including Bond Dickinson, TLT and DAC Beachcroft appointed to local authority framework

Firms including Bond Dickinson, TLT and DAC Beachcroft appointed to local authority framework

A host of UK firms including Bond DickinsonTLT and DAC Beachcroft have been appointed to West Yorkshire authorities’ legal framework (WYLAW) for three years.

A total of nineteen law firms have been appointed across ten lots which include childcare law, general litigation, routine property and contracts, commercial and IT. National firms Browne Jacobson, Ward Hadaway and Weightmans also feature on the roster. The last WYLAW review was carried out in June 2013 resulting in a panel which included Eversheds Sutherland and Pinsent Masons.

WYLAW comprises Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield councils, as well as the City of York Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The framework term is three years, with an optional further one year extension.

In a statement commenting on the review, Jackie Gray, head of Bond Dickinson’s local government group in Leeds said the appointment was ‘strategically important for the firm and for the Leeds office’ as Bond Dickinson looks to expand its capability in local government work.

Gray added: ‘Having a dedicated local government team means that together with our property, planning, employment, pensions, litigation, corporate and commercial teams in Leeds we have a local responsive team of lawyers who can advise members of WYLAW every step of the way.’

Lots are categorised as (1) childcare law, (2) adult social service and community law, (3) general litigation, (4) routine property, (5) contracts, commercial and IT, (6) highways and environments, (7) major or complex procurements, (8) local government and corporate governance, (9) employment and pensions, (10) public health.

Firms appointed to multiple panels include:

  • Bevan Brittan (lots 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10)
  • Browne Jacobson (lots 1, 2,)
  • Bond Dickinson (lots 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9,)
  • Freeths (lots 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • Sheffield City Council (lots 1, 2, 3, 9,)
  • Stephensons Solicitors (lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 9)
  • Ward Hadaway (lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10)
  • Weightmans (lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Legal Business

TLT revenue rises 4% in fifth consecutive year of growth

TLT revenue rises 4% in fifth consecutive year of growth

Bristol-based LB100 firm TLT’s revenue rose 4% to £74.6m for the 2016/17 financial year, marking its fifth consecutive year of revenue growth.

TLT’s managing partner David Pester said that the firm’s revenues have grown by around 50% since 2013 when it was £49m. Pester attributed the rapid increase to the firm’s ‘UK expansion programme.’

Since 2013, TLT has opened a new Manchester office and refurbished it. It also significantly renovated the firm’s Bristol office.

Pester also stated that revenues were ‘broadly balanced’ across the firm’s transactional, advisory and disputes practices. This was due to a strategy focused on ‘refining our business with an emphasis on deepening expertise and balancing out the contribution of our practice areas and sectors.’

Over the last financial year, TLT’s fee income rose 4%, a slow increase compared to 15% growth last year. This was explained partly by the firm securing key mandates on panels including BT, Molson Coors and the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) general legal advisory panel.

TLT made it onto the top tier of the CCS panel, worth £320m. Alongside TLT on the top tier are Linklaters, Bond Dickinson, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Dentons, DLA Piper, Gowling WLG, Mills & Reeve, Pinsent Masons, Eversheds Sutherland. A consortium consisting of PwC, Howes Percival, Holman Fenwick Willan and Sharpe Pritchard also share the top tier.

Pester stressed the need for the firm to pay particular attention to its clients as they are ‘experiencing the impact of increased political and economic volatility.’

As a result, Pester said the firm’s strategy was focused on ‘targeted investment and innovation, particularly around how we can deliver legal services in the most effective way for our clients.’

TLT currently has over 100 partners and offices in Bristol, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast. The firm specialises in advising organisations in the energy, financial services, housing, leisure, public sector, retail and TMT sectors.

Legal Business

Stephenson Harwood promotes three in reduced round as TLT introduces eight new partners

Stephenson Harwood promotes three in reduced round as TLT introduces eight new partners

Stephenson Harwood has promoted three to partner in a reduced round following last year’s largest ever nine partner intake, while TLT has increased its promotions with six making partner.

Alongside the three, the firm has also made up one to local partner. Commercial litigation lawyers Donna Newman, Sophie Schultz and finance lawyer George Vaughton have been promoted in the firm’s London office while finance lawyer Elton Chan will become a local partner in the firm’s Hong Kong office.

In 2016 Stephenson Harwood promoted nine lawyers across its London, Paris, Hong Kong, Piraeus and Dubai offices, with three finance partners and two corporate partners making up five of the nine promotions. The firm also appointed two marine and international trade local partners in their Hong Kong office. In 2015 the firm had promoted five, all in London.

Meanwhile, TLT has promoted seven associates and one legal director to partner. Litigation lawyer Matthew Forrest, employment lawyer Siobhan Fitzgerald, commercial lawyers Dan Read and Patrick Sweeney, real estate lawyers Matthew Grimwood and Patrick Sheehan, corporate lawyer Antonia Silvestri and commercial dispute resolution lawyer Victoria Mabbett will all become partners on 1 May.

Five of TLT’s promotions are based in the firm’s Bristol office with two in Manchester and one in London. The firm has also promoted four real estate associates to legal director.

Senior partner Andrew Glynn said: ‘This is our largest round of promotions in a number of years, signifying the growth of the firm across the UK. We attribute that growth to the dedication and hard work of our people, and are pleased to be able to recognise and reward it. It is also notable that an increasing number of those promoted have flexible working arrangements, and the firm continues to explore these and other methods of retaining talent within the business.’

TLT made up six lawyers to partner last year, bringing the firm’s total partner headcount to over 100 for the first time. The promotions were in the firm’s commercial services, and banking and lender services groups, with lawyers based in Belfast, Bristol, London and Manchester.

Promotions in full:

Stephenson Harwood

Donna Newman, commercial litigation, London

Sophie Schultz, commercial litigation, London

George Vaughton, finance, London

Elton Chan, finance, Hong Kong


Matthew Forrest, property litigation, Manchester

Siobhan Fitzgerald, employment, Bristol

Dan Read, commercial law, Bristol

Patrick Sweeney, commercial law, London

Matthew Grimwood, real estate, Bristol

Patrick Sheehan, real estate, Manchester

Antonia Silvestri, corporate, Bristol

Victoria Mabbett, commercial dispute resolution, Bristol

Legal Business

TLT managing partner Pester to serve sixth term after uncontested election

TLT managing partner Pester to serve sixth term after uncontested election

TLT‘s managing partner David Pester has been re-appointed in an uncontested election to serve another three year term, bringing his total number of years at the helm of the firm to 18.

Pester (pictured), who first took on the managing partner mantle in 2002, having qualified in 1987 at legacy firm Lawrence Tucketts, has led TLT as its revenue has more than quadrupled, bringing the firm’s revenue to an all-time high of £71.6m in 2015/16. The firm entered the top half of the LB 100 for the first time this year.

The past year’s growth comes off the back of a strong 2014/2015 financial year, with the firm growing its turnover by 8% with revenues of £62.5m. Over the last five years, turnover has grown 65%.

Pester said: ‘Our ambition at the start was to create a strong UK firm with a clear idea of the industries it would support and with the investment capacity and expertise to deliver a standout client service. That vision is still at the heart of what the firm stands for today as we prepare to kick off our new 2020 strategy.’

Senior partner Andrew Glynn, who led the election process, added: ‘With early adoption of what are now industry norms, such as a sector-focused strategy and cross firm collaborative working, TLT is marked by its willingness to adapt and respond to a changing market.’

Earlier this year the firm appointed former real estate head Glynn as senior partner after longstanding senior partner Robert Bourns stepped down to become president of The Law Society in July. Bourns continues to practise at the firm as a partner in its employment, pensions and incentives group.

The firm also announced its investment into its Bristol headquarters following the expansion and refurbishment of its Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester offices across the past three years.