Osborne Clarke revenues jump again to hit €245m

Osborne Clarke has posted a 5 per cent in profits in 2016/17 from €219.6m to €245.1m, amid a like-for-like turnover increase of 12 per cent.

This turnover growth is considerably lower than in 2015/16, when Osborne Clarke reported a 23 per cent revenue rise to €236.3m.

This year, the firm restated its turnover from 2015/16 using the same average currency conversion rate as 2016/17 to eliminate the effects of exchange rate fluctuations.

Net profit grew from £49.8m to £52.5m, as average profit per equity partner rose by a modest three per cent to £652,000.

The firm’s UK revenue grew seven per cent from £112.9m to £121m, after crossing the £100m barrier for the first time in 2015/16.

UK turnover now accounts for 58 per cent of Osborne Clarke’s global figures – in 2015/16 UK revenue made up 62 per cent of turnover.

Osborne Clarke also said its cash resources rose 29 per cent in 2016/17 from £25.8m to £33.4m.

UK managing partner Ray Berg told The Lawyer: “The results show that the international network is growing.”

He added: “Our cash resources demonstrate that we’re a well-managed firm, which is something our clients are increasingly asking us about.”

Over the past few years, Osborne Clarke has embarked on a period of international expansion, turning its attention most recently to Asia.

The firm opened an office in Shanghai, giving the firm its first base in mainland China. It also formalised its relationship with Hong Kong firm Koh Vass & Co in 2015, as well as BTG Legal in India in November 2014.

Last year it entered the Singapore market through an association with local firm OC Queen Street.

Around 95 per cent of UK revenues are billed by Osborne Clarke’s sector teams, including digital business, financial services and life sciences. Berg admitted there are a few areas that do not fit in with the firm’s sector focus, claiming it is not the intention for all UK turnover to come from Osborne Clarke’s sector groups.

Financials for 2016/17 are steadily trickling in, with Eversheds Sutherland revealing its first post-merger results of an 8 per cent uplift to £438.6m.

Gateley’s revenue also increased by 15 per cent from £67m to at least £77m in its second full year as a listed entity.

Earlier this week Fieldfisher said its revenue had skyrocketed 34 per cent to £165m.

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Peter Bolger heads LK Shields’ IP, technology and privacy team

LK Shields has appointed highly ranked solicitor Peter Bolger as head of intellectual property, technology and privacy.

Bolger joins team members Michael Kavanagh, Ciaran Markey, Aideen Burke, Catherine Walsh and Ide O’Neill.

Bolger brings 20 years’ experience assisting national and international clients on IP and commercial transactions (domestic and cross-border), their IP strategies, data protection and privacy, technology law and prosecutions.

He also advises clients on privacy law in respect of compliance, transfers, policies and audits in Irish and International data protection matters.

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Hudgell restructures management to cement place as market leader

Hudgell Solicitors says a management restructure will ensure the firm responds positively to changes within the claims industry – ensuring it is a ‘beneficiary and not a victim’ of new regulations.

Amanda Stevens has been appointed chief executive, in a role which will see her shape the growth of the business alongside founder and managing director Neil Hudgell.

A new business strategy, backed by the senior management team at the business, has been communicated to staff in London, Leeds and Hull this week.

Stevens, who has a background in leading business strategy from her days as an NHS manager and as a partner at Charles Russell and Irwin Mitchell before joining Hudgell Solicitors in January 2016, says it is all about the business building on its recent rapid growth, and grasping the opportunities presented by change.

“There has been a lot of talk about uncertainty in the claims sector, but what Hudgell Solicitors has been traditionally very strong at, and will be so in the future, is identifying times of change as opportunities,” she said.

“When you come to a crossroads, you need to have planned your path and know where you are heading, and why. That is what this is all about. It is about ensuring our firm is a beneficiary of the changes, not a victim.”

The restructure at the top of a business which, for the most part of its 20-year history has been influenced by Mr Hudgell himself, comes on the back of months of planning of the senior management team. It also follows Mr Hudgell choosing to take a three-month sabbatical from the business in 2016, allowing him time to focus on the firm’s future direction at a time of impending change across the industry.

“Hudgell Solicitors is very much a different law firm today to the one it was five years ago, and very different to what it was two years ago even,” added Stevens. “It is a firm which started as a local business which has grown into a top 150 law firm in the UK, a firm which is recognised as a specialist leader in its field nationally. With that comes a need for change in the business strategy and direction to reflect that.

“That has been a major focus of the senior management team for many months now, and we have agreed a strategy and direction for the business which is very exciting and we all believe will take us to the next level.”

It is not the first time in recent years that the firm has reviewed its practices and direction in order to make the most of law changes which put a squeeze on the claims industry. Whilst others sold off their personal injury cases and focus on other areas of law in the wake of the Jackson reforms in 2013, Hudgell Solicitors viewed it as an opportunity, launching an aggressive acquisition strategy through the launch of www.webuyanyfiles.co.uk.

It saw the firm take on caseloads from lawyers, insolvency practitioners, accountants and other professionals, with more than 6,000 files acquired at a cash consideration of around £5m.

Once again, with significant change ahead, acquisition is part of the planned strategy as Hudgell Solicitors looks to further strengthen its position. Mr Hudgell says Stevens will now head-up various new projects as part of the firm’s new strategy, including developing its management information tools, and undertaking a full analysis of the customer journey.

She will also oversee the costs, ‘mentoring and talent identification’ within the business, and lead the development of the firm’s rehabilitation services – an area of work in which she has played a key national role by twice overseeing revisions and updates to the Rehabilitation Code in 2007 and most recently 2015.

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Gianni Origoni strengthens public M&A team

Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners has reinforced its public M&A team with the arrival of counsel Giulia Staderini.

Staderini has extensive experience in the legal regulation of listed companies, and in particular in the field of compliance with market transparency duties concerning corporate control.

Throughout her long career, Staderini has also managed the regulatory supervision of significant shareholdings and shareholder agreements in the share capital of listed issuers; inquiries relating to the publication of prospectuses for public sale and subscription offers, also for listings on the MTA (the leading Italian Equity Market) (IPO, OPV, OPVS); the enforcement of administrative sanction procedures; inquiries aimed at obtaining authorisations regarding documents related to takeover bids, both voluntary and mandatory; inquiries regarding corporate restructuring and the availability of  exemptions from OPA obligations in the context of takeovers.

At Consob, Staderini headed the Takeover Bids and Ownership Structures Office within the corporate governance department and was manager of the Takeover Bids Office.

She participated as a national expert in several international working groups and task forces within ESMA and she was also a member of the Italian delegation within the European Council for the approval process of The Transparency Directive.

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Conyers advises on $814m bond issuance by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power

Conyers Dill & Pearman acted as BVI counsel to the initial purchasers – including Jefferies International, Citigroup Capital Markets, Standard Chartered Bank, NCB Capital, Mizuho International and China Construction Bank Corporation – in connection with the recent offering by ACWA Power Management and Investments One of $814m of aggregate principal amount of 5.95% senior secured notes due 2039.

The issuer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ACWA Power, the largest private power generator and desalinated water producer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The innovative transaction structure enables ACWA Power to monetise its dividend cash flows from stakes held in project companies by offering investment-grade bonds.

The bonds are traded on the Irish Stock Exchange.

Oliver Simpson and Fawaz Elmalki of the Dubai office of Conyers Dill & Pearman worked alongside Shearman & Sterling, which acted as onshore counsel to the initial purchasers.

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Bär & Karrer advises on sale of Kuoni Global Travel

On 30 May 2017, Kiwi GT Sub II, a company owned by EQT and the Kuoni Hugentobler Foundation, agreed to sell all its shares in Kuoni Travel Investments (Kuoni’s Group Travel Services) to the JTB Corporation.

The partnership formed between Kuoni Global Travel Services and the JTB Corporation is an opportunity to become the top global destination management provider.

Bär & Karrer acted as lead legal adviser to EQT and the Kuoni Group in the transaction.

The team includes Till Spillmann, Markus Wang, Adrian Koller, Andrea Giger, Ivo von Büren, Alexander von Jeinsen, Nadina Duss (all M&A) and Mani Reinert (competition).

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Dentons expands in South East Asia with office launch

Dentons has expanded in Myanmar by opening a new office in Yangon, its second location in South East Asia.

The new office is known as Dentons Myanmar Limited locally and is led by Australian corporate lawyer Mark Livingston. The office is staffed by a team of seven lawyers and staff.

The team joins from Livingstons Legal, a boutique corporate legal practice set up by Livingston in January 2016. The team focuses on supporting investment into Myanmar, providing advice on market entry, company set-ups, real estate, M&A and joint venture and regulation and compliance.

Prior to his private practice, Livingston was in several in-house roles with a variety of mining companies, including Archipelago Resources and OceanaGold.

In his new role, he and his team will work closely with Dentons Rodyk, a Singaporean firm formerly known as Rodyk & Davidson, and will become a partner of Dentons Rodyk.

“The economic development and democratisation of Myanmar has opened up a wealth of both inbound and outbound opportunities for our clients from within Asia and around the world,” said Joe Andrew, global chairman of Dentons.

“Myanmar is an important developing market in the heart of one of the words most exciting regions,” he added.

The Yangon office is Dentons’ second location in South East Asia and the first expansion after its merger with Singaporean firm Rodyk & Davidson in 2016. Dentons’ Singapore office currently has 167 lawyers including 87 partners, and is led by Philip Jeyaretnam. Jeyaretnam also serves as the Dentons’ global vice chair and regional CEO, and is driving Dentons’ growth in South East Asia.

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Chambers goes paperless to save £350,000 a year

St John’s Buildings has implemented technology to go paperless and save up to £350,000 per year.

The barristers chambers, which is understood to be the first to go fully paperless, developed a cloud-based legal document sharing tool with software provider Advanced.

The tool allows users to digitise documents, making them easier to produce and access. Barristers can work collaboratively on them with their clients even when there is no internet connection, while the storage of legal files electronically will enable lawyers and clients to have 24-hour access to their documents.

St John’s Buildings CEO Chris Ronan said: “St John’s Buildings has long been recognised for its innovative approach to the delivery of advocacy services. The decision to introduce electronic document management comes as we seek to modernise the way we work in line with the digital revolution taking place across the legal sector and to dramatically reduce our own environmental footprint.

“The introduction of ‘less-paper’ working gives our barristers, who are traditionally mobile workers, the ability to service clients in a secure and flexible environment, while enhancing the speed and reliability of that service.”

Last year, The Lawyer’s UK 200 Business Services report highlighted the rise of technology in the agenda for law firms, with many setting up technology-specific innovation teams and R&D budgets.

The recently merged CMS has employed technology Brainspace to speed up the process of data analysis and reviews in litigation and arbitration investigations, while Clifford Chance signed up artificial intelligence provider Kira Systems to analyse the text in contracts.

However, it may be that law firms are leading the way in terms of innovation. A recently conducted online survey by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) into the provision of legal services by barristers found that the traditional business model was still dominant.

The survey, conducted online in September and October of last year, found that few survey respondents “are operating significantly differently from the traditional model of delivery”. Technology is seen as an “enabler” rather than “the main means of delivery of legal services”.

The report said that more than 90 per cent of the respondents did not use a virtual assistant technology such as algorithm-based programmes to provide automated legal advice, although online case management systems were more common. It went on to highlight that cloud computing systems could significantly cut costs.

BSB Director General Vanessa Davies said: “This research tells us that some innovation is happening in traditional chambers as well as through new business models…The chambers model seems likely to continue to serve consumers well in the future but our role as the regulator is also to enable barristers who do want to innovate to do so, through flexible regulatory arrangements.”

Potential reasons for the apparent lack of enthusiasm in developing technology in chambers are the risk of cybercrime, the cost of IT systems and their upkeep, as well as the risk of a “disconnect” in the barrister-client relationship.

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Election 2017: Trainee solicitor to contest marginal seat for SNP

A trainee solicitor is bidding to become one of Parliament’s youngest MPs in the 2017 General Election.

Màiri McAllan is contesting Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale for the Scottish National Party (SNP). The marginal seat is currently the only one held by the Conservatives in Scotland, with the incumbent, qualified solicitor and current Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, holding off the SNP challenge by just 798 votes in 2015.

McAllan has a degree in Scots law from Glasgow University and began a training contract with a commercial firm in September 2016.

An active campaigner for Scottish independence during the 2014 referendum campaign, she has been praised by SNP leader as a “shining example of the talented young women” in the party.

Speaking to the Peeblesshire News, she said: “I am offering the people of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale a strong voice and a clear choice. A choice between a future in which I ensure their voices are heard loud and clear in Westminster, and one where crucial decisions are made, behind closed doors, by a Tory government with its own dangerous agenda.

“This is a wonderful part of Scotland and I love living here. I would relish the opportunity to help our home reach its true potential and look forward to meeting as many people as possible on the campaign trail, over the next few weeks.”

Màiri McAllan is not the first trainee to stand for Parliament. In 2010, Addleshaw Goddard’s Jonathan Reynolds left the firm midway through this training contract after winning the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency for Labour with a majority of 2,700.

More recently, in 2015 a Hogan Lovells NQ, Fraser Galloway, stood unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

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Private client 2.0

It is a bright time for London’s private client firms. Such is the health of the sector that the magic circle firms, which jettisoned their private client departments nearly a decade ago, are building up teams once again.

Linklaters hired Forsters partner Peter Golden in March  2016 to head up a trusts practice, while the likes of Clifford Chance are also active in the area, despite not shouting about their capabilities.

But away from the magic circle, the private client teams that never went away are reaping the rewards of long-term investment. The outlook is sunny for private client associates aiming for partnership.

We looked at 12 leading London firms for private client work – Bircham Dyson Bell, Boodle Hatfield, Charles Russell Speechlys, Collyer Bristow, Farrer & Co, Forsters, Macfarlanes, Maurice Turnor Gardner, Payne Hicks Beach, Russell-Cooke, Taylor Wessing and Withers. Across those firms, there have been 28 private client promotions since 2012 – an average of more than two per firm.

“This is a really exciting time to be working with individuals on their tax and wealth planning,” says Withers partner Ceri Vokes. “World events and new legislation have caused a significant rethinking of traditional approaches to private client issues – the Brexit referendum, a tightening of the terms Private client 2.0 London’s top fi rms are reviving their private client practices, opening up fresh opportunities for the best lawyers. What are the skills talented associates need to make it this time round?

What’s the new idea? Today’s PC lawyers need an international perspective and rainmaking skills as well as knowing the technical aspects of UK non-dom status and the Trump administration’s proposed tax reforms, to name just three. This means that insightful, far-reaching advice is in high demand by clients and we’re extremely busy, which creates opportunities for talented associates.”

“The private client market is growing and we believe that it provides excellent prospects for private client associates,” adds Boodle Hatfield senior partner Sara Maccallum. “The growing trend for international high-net-worth individuals to use the English legal system to structure their affairs and English advisers to coordinate the advice from different legal systems looks set to continue. This, coupled with recent and ongoing changes in legislation, mean that private client lawyers are being kept busy and it’s an exciting area in which to work.”

Technical excellence, combined with client skills and rainmaking ability makes a complete private client partner” Patrick Harney

Are there skills that private client associates need now that were not needed in the past?

“It’s increasingly important for associates to have an international perspective,” says Vokes. “It’s not a necessity in all instances, but globalisation has resulted in more of our projects involving multiple jurisdictions and that trend is unlikely to go into reverse.

“It’s also critical for associates to have a proven ability to generate new business. This often starts right at the beginning of their careers with the relationships they forge with clients, because the biggest compliment a client can pay us is to refer a contact to us. Ambitious associates who are growing in seniority should be looking to demonstrate what they could add to the firm’s business as a future partner.”

But equally, “if an associate is serious about becoming a partner they have to be a technician as well as whatever rainmaking skills they have”, argues Forsters’ head of private client Patrick Harney. “The whole area has become more technical – you can’t dabble, the need for technical excellence is a prerequisite. That, combined with the client skills and rainmaking ability makes a complete private client partner.”

Who trained the new stars of the private client world?

Allen & Overy (A&O) offl oaded its private client department in 2009 but its loss is the market’s gain, as its former trainees have started to make partner at midsized firms across the City.

Former A&O trainees have been promoted at Farrer & Co, Charles Russell Speechlys and Payne Hicks Beach, as well as at Maurice Turnor Gardner – the firm created by the 2009 demerger of the magic circle giant’s private client wing. After A&O, Macfarlanes is the largest single source of private client talent.

Four private client lawyers who trained at the firm have been made up in the past five years – three at Macfarlanes itself and one at Forsters.

A&O offloaded its private client department in 2009 but its loss has been the market’s gain as former trainees are now making partner at firms across the City

You do not have to train at one of the City’s elite to make it to partnership in the City’s top private client teams. Russell-Cooke partner Rita Bhargava (made up 2012) started her career at Staines’ Dale & Newbury, Taylor Wessing’s Kirstie McGuigan (made up 2013) began at Tunbridge Wells stalwart Thomson Snell & Passmore, and Charles Russell Speechlys’ Nicola Thorpe (made up 2016) was originally at Ottaways of St Albans.

Where-recently-made-up-private-client-partners-at-leading-City-firms-trained

Withers has promoted three private client lawyers to partner since 2012, out of 10 in total: wealth planning lawyers Tim George, Charlie Tee and contentious trusts and succession specialist Stephen Richards. The firm’s family department is the only other one to have made up as many partners in that period.

“The private client team remains the engine room of our fi rm and we are looking at how we can build our strengths in this – and other areas – in our newer offices,” says partner Ceri Vokes. “Our private client team in London is well-established so the focus is on the development of our lawyers and organic growth.”

Forsters has significantly boosted its private client off ering, taking four partners, 10 associates and five other members of staff from GowlingWLG as of 1 May 2017. It has also made up two partners from the practice since 2012 out of 11 promotions firmwide – Xavier Nicholas in 2013 and Guy Abrahams this year.

The mass hire from Gowlings, which brings the number of private client partners to 15, will have little effect on internal promotion prospects, says department head Patrick Harney. “We have a tradition of promoting associates to partner, and because we’re targeting 10 per cent annual growth we’ll have the ability to promote senior associates who are performing well.

Mayfair’s Boodle Hatfield, adviser to the Dukes of Westminster over many generations, has made two private client promotions since 2012: Hayden Bailey and Mark Lindley, both of whom trained at Penningtons.

Senior partner Sara Maccallum says: “Private client is core to Boodle Hatfield and our objective is to continue growing the practice through a combination of internal promotions and lateral hires. Our international work is showing substantial growth, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East, Russia, the US and Europe. We maintain a focus on the domestic market also, where we advise a large number of the top landed estates and an increasing number of entrepreneurial clients.”

Three out of Macfarlanes’ 32 partner promotions since 2012 have come in the private client team – just over 9 per cent. Corporate leads the way with eight promotions but there is a fairly even spread of promotions across practice groups, proving that private client is at least as important to the firm as real estate or banking.

However, no private client lawyer has been made up in the past three promotions rounds, the most recent being Jennifer Smithson in 2014. She trained at the firm, as did both the other private client associates made up since 2012, Oliver Court and Michael Ranson.

“We tend to promote from within,” says Smithson. “It’s an unique skill-set that’s required to be a private client lawyer at Macfarlanes – the way we approach the work is quite different from a more pure private client firm, so we find that associates from those firms don’t always have the training we’re looking for. We tend to have people who have applied to a corporate City firm, been curious about us and discovered that they love private client work, so the training they’ve had with us has had a commercial flavor.”

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