The firms were deep into merger talks that started in early 2017, with south west-based Ashfords having been eager to complete a tie-up with another southern outfit for some time. Ashfords had been the senior party throughout the talks, with the merged firm set to trade under the Exeter outfit’s name and brand. Continue reading “‘Too far apart’: Ashfords and Boyes Turner abandon £60m merger talks”
The merger will go live on 1 May 2019, subject to due diligence and legal agreements, while initial talks taking place in early 2017. The new firm will have a total of 700 employees and seven offices, with scale, future investment opportunities and client wins the cited motivations for the move. Continue reading “‘Scale and investment capability’: Ashfords and Boyes Turner merger to create £60m southern force”
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.’
As part of our Regional Insight series, we met with senior in-house lawyers and partners from Brodies in Edinburgh to discuss the key issues facing GCs working in Scotland.
The most heavily-used phrase among in-house counsel and private practice lawyers alike is ‘trusted adviser’, so it is therefore unsurprising that this became the first major topic of discussion on an agenda looking at the key pressure points facing in-house counsel. Stuart Clarke, head of legal at Scottish Enterprise, says it is fundamental to be seen as being at the heart of your organisation’s thoughts on how it is going to deliver its business plan.
At one point in our Regional Insight report – a major collaboration with our colleagues at The Legal 500 included with this issue of Legal Business – one GC based in the North West discusses a recent pitch in which a City law firm came out best on price against regional rivals. Surprising as it may seem, it is reflective of a dynamic that has seen London advisers focus on handling work from UK regions after realising that simply aspiring to be a City leader is a road to nowhere for many firms.
If you were to venture outside London to the major regional legal markets ten or 15 years ago, you would probably have been surprised. The energy, ambition and cohesive professional communities in these markets went well beyond expectations.
In the bars of Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester you would often meet individuals with that mix of personality, judgement and charisma that marks out the best commercial lawyers. No wonder so many of London’s sharpest legal operators used to be bred in the sticks.
Confidence is returning to the national UK economy, to the relief of clients and law firms alike. But, as our Regional Insight report shows, growth in legal services is still a relative term across local markets in continued flux.
The outward indicators are generally strong. Based on economic forecasts in 2014 from the likes of the International Monetary Fund and PwC, the UK is on track to become the fifth largest economy in the world by 2020, overtaking France.
But while PwC’s July 2014 economic outlook for the UK made the bold assertion that ‘all major industry sectors and regions are now showing positive growth trends’, inevitably those regions are starting from different positions, facing varying dynamics and contributing to the overall growth at significantly different rates.