First law firm deal for ‘House of brands’ group

Walker-Smith: Shared access to greater support

Legal and professional services group Ampa – which owns leading midlands practice Shakespeare Martineau – has made its first law firm acquisition since unveiling its innovative ‘house of brands’ strategy.

Sussex law firm Mayo Wynne Baxter (MWB) will from May become the “regional legal anchor brand” for the South-East.

The merger will take Ampa to a turnover above £100m for 2022/23 and more than 1,100 people, with MWB accounting for around 200 to that number. It currently has 29 partners.

MWB will continue to operate as a separate LLP, retaining its brand, except for its personal injury and clinical negligence teams, which will join Ampa’s existing brand, Lime Solicitors.

MWB’s most recent accounts, for the year to 31 March 2021, recorded a profit before tax of £2.6m on a turnover of £11.6m, of which £1.2m is transferring over to Lime.

No money will be exchanged as part of the merger and the firm’s equity partners will merge into Ampa’s membership.

Shakespeare Martineau renamed its holding LLP as Ampa last year, having in 2020 outlined a strategy to attract mergers, acquisitions and hires to a ‘house of brands’, double in size by 2023 and hit turnover of at least £200m by 2025.

In addition to Lime, it has three other brands: debt and loss recovery business Corclaim, town planning consultancy Marrons Planning, and cyber security company CSS Assure, which Ampa bought last October.

Ampa group chief executive Sarah Walker-Smith described Ampa as a “step away from the traditional consolidation model”.

She explained: “A key benefit of our group is shared access to greater support for the benefit of our clients, whether that be from other legal professionals across different brands, or our combined business operations capabilities alongside greater career development opportunities for our people.

“Through greater buying power and significant opportunities to collaborate on projects, we will deliver enhanced benefit for our people and clients, in life and business.

“Each brand in our group is empowered to deliver on its growth ambitions and retaining autonomy whilst collaborating with each other when it makes sense to do so for the greater good.”

Dean Orgill, MWB’s chief executive partner, who will set on the Ampa group board, added: “A merger with Ampa, which shares our values, will enable us to do even more to support our clients, people and our local community.

“We are recruiting proactively across Sussex, Surrey and Kent to grow the business and deliver more opportunities for jobs as well as internal career progression. Being part of the Ampa group enables us to increase the pace of this programme.”

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