Legal Business

North west clients – The delivery business

North west clients – The delivery business

To mark our Regional Insight report, we teamed up with Weightmans to assemble a group of senior in-house counsel in the north west.

A discussion over added value in legal services typically begins with a discussion of what the term actually means. Right off the bat, Celia Tierney of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council points out that the phrase ‘best value’ was coined by the public sector, as local government bodies have been required to provide this in their services for a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, Tyco’s regional general counsel (GC) EMEA, David Symonds, sums it up for most when he says: ‘The primary driver that we are judged by is how much we spend externally.’

Legal Business

Weightmans re-elects Schorah and Cutts to serve second term

Weightmans re-elects Schorah and Cutts to serve second term

National LB100 firm Weightmans has re-elected its management team of John Schorah and Dan Cutts to serve another three year term commencing 1 May 2016.

Managing partner John Schorah (pictured right) and senior partner Dan Cutts (pictured left) have worked at the firm for 12 and 15 years respectively. In July this year they oversaw the firm’s merger with Leeds-based firm Ford & Warren which established an offering in Yorkshire and added one office to Weightmans’ existing ten offices across the UK.

Commenting on his re-election, John Schorah said: ‘for us, the Weightmans way is about our people delivering expert knowledge, outstanding client service and quality advice, consistently. As a firm, we have hired key people, expanded in the areas our clients have asked us to, and are being rewarded by excellent rankings, awards and client feedback. We look to build on our success and keep moving forward. Exciting times ahead.’

Cutts added: ‘We will both continue to manage and motivate our teams in our 11 offices across the country, so that we can strengthen our business and continue to exceed client expectation.’

Weightmans, which is listed at number 44 in this year’s Legal Business 100, posted modest revenue growth of 2.5% for the 2014/15 financial year. Revenue, which rose from £87m to £89.2m is at a slower pace than last year when the firm enjoyed revenue growth of 6.6% across all business lines, with many practice areas exceeding annual targets.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Pinsents and CMS miss out as DLA Piper, DWF and Weightmans make it onto Scots government legal panel

Pinsents and CMS miss out as DLA Piper, DWF and Weightmans make it onto Scots government legal panel

Both Pinsent Masons and CMS Cameron McKenna have missed out on spots as nine firms were awarded places on the Scottish government’s legal services framework which is open to public sector bodies across Scotland.

Scottish firms Anderson Strathern and Harper MacLeod were the only two to win places on all of the six lots: contracts, commercial and corporate; debt recovery; litigation, reparation, employment and inquiries; major projects; property; and a one-stop shop.

DLA Piper won a sole place to provide property advice, with DWF taking a position on the major projects roster. Weightmans also gained a solitary engagement on the litigation lot.

Pinsents and CMS both missed out on slots having been on the previous panel with roles also being handed to Brodies and a handful of smaller Scottish outfits including MacRoberts, Morton Fraser and Thorntons. Pricing is understood to have played a key role in the procurement with the government saying it weighed bids on a 60/40 quality/price basis.

Harper Macleod chairman, Lorne Crerar, said: ‘Given the level of interest and high levels of competition during this procurement process, being appointed to the Framework panels is an achievement in itself, however this simply affords us the ability to bid for a wide range of tender opportunities. We look forward to competing for the opportunity to work with the Government and a wide range of public bodies over the next four years.’

The tender process, which was launched a year ago, was run by the Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate with the finalised framework available to over one hundred public bodies in Scotland, including NHS organisations, fire and rescue services, the Scottish police authority and the equality and human rights commission.

The former panel was renewed in 2011 and included eleven firms, namely Anderson Strathern; Biggart Baillie; Brodies; DLA Piper; Dundas & Wilson (now CMS); Harper Macleod; Ledingham Chalmers; Maclay Murray & Spens; MacRoberts; Morton Fraser and Pinsent Masons.

The current framework comprises:

Lot 1 – Contracts, Commercial and Corporate: Anderson Strathern, Harper Macleod, MacRoberts, Morton Fraser and Thorntons

Lot 2 – Debt Recovery: Anderson Strathern, Brodies, Harper MacLeod, Morton Fraser and Thorntons

Lot 3 – Litigation, Reparation, Employment and Inquiries: Anderson Strathern, Brodies, Harper MacLeod, Morton Fraser and Weightmans

Lot 4 – Major Projects: Anderson Strathern, Brodies, DWF, Harper MacLeod and MacRoberts

Lot 5 – Property and Related Matters: Anderson Strathern, DLA Piper, Harper MacLeod, Morton Fraser and Thorntons

Lot 6 – One Stop Shop: Anderson Strathern, Brodies, Harper MacLeod, Morton Fraser and Thorntons

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

For more on the current state of play in the Scottish legal market see: When the hurlyburly’s done – nationalism, devolution and another turbulent period for Scots law firms

Legal Business

News in brief – July 2015

News in brief – July 2015

FRESHFIELDS BREAKS CITY LOCKSTEP TO BRING IN KIRKLAND’S McKIMM

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s hire of Kirkland & Ellis high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm made waves in the City in June. Joining as co-head of European leveraged finance, McKimm’s salary is understood to be well above the firm’s City top of equity.

 

Legal Business

‘A good little business’: Weightmans completes Leeds merger to create £100m firm

‘A good little business’: Weightmans completes Leeds merger to create £100m firm

Legal Business 100 firm Weightmans has completed its merger with local Leeds firm Ford & Warren, creating a combined entity with revenues of around £100m and headcount of over 1,400.

The deal, which was completed on Friday (3 July) will add 110 staff to the firm nationally, including 12 partners – bringing the total number of partners to 187. The merger will also provide Weightmans with a new base in Leeds, giving the firm a presence in nine UK locations.

Speaking to Legal Business, Weightmans managing partner John Schorah said there were synergies between the two firms in terms of clients and complimentary sectors such as insurance, retail and leisure and transport.

‘They have a licensing team that we don’t have, and there are some things that we are able to sell here to their clients that they don’t have. And of course it was an opportunity to get into the Leeds market. It is a region we think our clients would like to see us in and we think we can do more for our clients being based there. And it was a good little business.’

The integration period between the two firms is already underway, with some Weightmans partners, including the head of the firm’s national regulatory services unit, David Lewis, relocating to Leeds. Lewis, who is also currently regional office head in Liverpool, will become regional office head of the new Leeds offering.

In May Weightmans, which also has offices in Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, announced a modest revenue increase of 2.5% for the 2014/15 financial year to £89.2m from £87m. The figure demonstrates a slowing pace of growth compared to last year’s results when the firm enjoyed revenue growth of 6.6% across all business lines, with many practice areas exceeding annual targets. Weightmans took the opportunity that year to reduce its debt from £9.6m to £3.5m, marking a while net profit came in at £24.1m.

Ford & Warren, as it is not an LLP, does not publish its revenue figures, but its last reported turnover was in the region of £10m two years ago.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Weightmans targets July for merger with Leeds-firm Ford & Warren

Weightmans targets July for merger with Leeds-firm Ford & Warren

National firm Weightmans is looking to establish an offering in Yorkshire, announcing it is in final merger negotiations with single office, Leeds-based Ford & Warren.

The two firms are targeting July this year to have a merger completed with formal contract negotiations currently underway. If successfully carried out, the merged firm will remain known as Weightmans, have 187 partners and a total headcount of over 1400.

Partners at Ford & Warren, which focuses on litigation, business and commerce, and private client work, will get access to Weightmans’ eight offices in: Birmingham, Dartford, Glasgow, Knutsford, Leicester, Liverpool, London and Manchester. The Leeds firm was established in 1816 and currently occupies 56,000 sq ft of office space, it says that it receives 70% of instructions from outside of the Yorkshire area including from FTSE 100 companies.

Weightmans’ managing partner, John Schorah, said: ‘The move is very much client driven, both in terms of clients we have in common and support from our clients to be there. Having explored and discussed our synergies, we believe we can, as a combined firm, grow in the Leeds market.’

Last month, Weightmans, which is setup as an alternative business structure, revealed a modest revenue increase of 2.5% for the 2014/15 financial year to £89.2m from £87m, demonstrating a slowing growth rate compared to last year. This year also saw the firm make an all-female promotions round with four joining the partnership.

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Weightmans’ growth slows but still manages 2.5% revenue increase to £89.2m

Weightmans’ growth slows but still manages 2.5% revenue increase to £89.2m

National firm Weightmans today (26 May) announced a modest revenue increase of 2.5% for the 2014/15 financial year to £89.2m from £87m, demonstrating a slowing growth rate compared to last year.

The 2.5% boost demonstrates a slowing pace of growth compared to last year’s results when the firm enjoyed revenue growth of 6.6% across all business lines, with many practice areas exceeding annual targets. The firm took the opportunity of the increased revenues that year to reduce its debt from £9.6m to £3.5m, marking a fall of 64% while net profit came in at £24.1m.

The firm said it continued to ‘work hard to restrict its reliance upon external borrowing… and had the benefit of key lateral hires, winning new clients, and the increased performance management efficiencies encapsulated within their business transformation project, Springboard.’

On this year’s results, the firm’s managing partner John Schorah said: ‘This has been another positive year of growth and development for the firm. The figures demonstrate our firm wide commitment to providing a truly authentic exceptional client service is paying dividends. The growth of our client base is testament to the value we place on our client relationships, and the emphasis this has on our overall business strategy. I would like to thank everyone at Weightmans for their efforts and our clients for their continued support.’

Other national firms to release financials of late include Browne Jacobson, which, for the second year in a row, posted a rise in turnover of over 10% with the firm generating £58.9m in the 2014/15 financial year – up 17% from last year’s £50.2m.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Weightmans makes an all-female round as BLM cuts its to six and Browne Jacobson’s partnership passes 100

Partner promotions: Weightmans makes an all-female round as BLM cuts its to six and Browne Jacobson’s partnership passes 100

This week saw Weightmans carry out its first all-female promotions round, making four women up to partner level, while BLM made up six in a reduced round from 2014 and Browne Jacobson promoted seven new partners taking its total partnership to 104.

Weightmans’s round also saw the firm use its Alternative Business Structure for a second year to promote non-legal employees to a Fixed Share Membership (FSM). The firm promoted HR director Sam Airey to FSM, following the first promotion of a business services employee last year, with marketing director Sarah-Jane Howitt.

The three other promotions at the firm were in commercial insurance, corporate finance and corporate dispute resolution. Commenting on the all-female promotions, Airey said: ‘Weightmans prides itself on its people-focused culture and encourages a healthy work life balance. As HR Director, I am delighted and excited about these promotions as it sends a positive message throughout the firm, that we recognise the importance of flexible working.’

In what saw the firm surpass the 100-partner mark, Browne Jacobson made the majority of its promotions in its Birmingham office, which saw five of the seven while a further two partners were made up in Nottingham. The promotions were spread evenly among practices with each partner specialising in a different area.

Meanwhile, as well as the six partner promotions, BLM made 27 associate promotions across five of the firm’s business streams, with 12 in claims solutions, 10 in large loss and technical, three in speciality and financial lines, seven in healthcare and commercial, and one in the firm’s Ireland business stream.

The partner round was much reduced from last year when BLM made up 24 partners after having recently finalised its merger with HBM Sayers.

The list of partner promotions in full is as follows:

Weightmans

Sam Airey, Liverpool, HR Director

Patricia Grinyer, Liverpool, corporate finance

Navdip Wilson, Leicester, commercial insurance and local government

Carole Spiller, Manchester, corporate dispute resolution

Browne Jacobson

Richard Freeth, Birmingham, education

Emma Hopkinson, Birmingham, banking

Mike Jackson, Birmingham, corporate

Lisa McGinn, Birmingham, property

Tim Rayner, Birmingham, property Litigation

Michael Sadler, Nottingham, construction

Lucy Worwood, Nottingham, tax

BLM

Caroline Haydock

Kelly Matthews

Karen Redmore

Matthew Perkins

Sarah Murray-Smith

Jane Littlewood

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Shining examples’: Three law firms make Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list

‘Shining examples’: Three law firms make Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list

Weightmans, Addleshaw Goddard and Oxfordshire-based Brethertons Solicitors have all made it on to the top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list.

The list, which is compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with City & Guilds, recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices. The three firms were selected by a panel of judges from the employment and skills arena for their exceptional contribution to apprenticeships.

With law firms increasingly looking at new routes into the profession, particularly as a way to encourage people from poorer backgrounds into legal services, top 50 law firm Weightmans was selected for its heavy intake, with ten apprentices across legal, paralegal, business administration, management and accounting. The firm was also highly commended in the Rolls Royce Award for Newcomer Large Employer of the Year.

Rob Williams, partner and board director at Weightmans, said: ‘We are the first employer in the country to recruit a Higher Apprentice in Legal Services and hope to help many more young people who have chosen the apprenticeship route into a successful legal career.’

Meanwhile, Brethertons’ apprenticeship programme, supported by training providers Heart of England and CILEX, has engaged 41 young people since its inception 13 years ago. Deborah Atkins, partner and head of HR, said: ‘Our apprenticeship programme serves to nurture and give real opportunities.’

Addleshaw Goddard, which this year has been working with government on establishing standards for apprentices to qualify as solicitors, also made it onto the list.

The list was announced by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg at the National Apprenticeship Awards last week. ‘I would encourage more businesses across England to follow these shining examples and find out how apprenticeships can help them build a skilled, motivated and highly qualified workforce,’ said Clegg. ‘For the Top 100 Apprentice Employers recognised in 2014, their great achievement clearly outlines why apprenticeships deliver the skills that young people and the economy need.’

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk