Fourth major regional acquisition for PE-backed Lawfront


L-R: Neil Lloyd (CEO, Lawfront), Simon Wallwork and Chris Bishop (Slater Heelis head of corporate and managing partner), and Axel Koelsch (COO, Lawfront)

Private equity-backed Lawfront has made its fourth major acquisition, and eighth in total, by buying Manchester-headquartered Slater Heelis.

Slater Heelis is a 28-partner, 220-person firm with a turnover of £17m and operating profit of £1.7m in its last filed accounts, for the year to 31 March 2023.

Non-equity partners and associate partners all had a shareholding, while last year it set up a share incentive plan, providing shares to all colleagues.

It joins Essex practice Fisher Jones Greenwood, Farleys in Lancashire and East Midland firm Nelsons as the major planks of Lawfront’s group.

Lawfront, the legal brand of private equity house Blixt Group, has also backed small acquisitions for each firm – two in the case of Nelsons last year.

Neil Lloyd, Lawfront CEO, told Legal Futures last year that the strategy was to buy between five and eight “regional leaders” and then invest in their growth.

Slater Heelis takes Lawfront’s revenue to approximately £70m, with the aim to become a national legal services business with a turnover of £100m.

Slater Heelis has itself been growing through acquisition, taking over Towns Needham and NJ Goodman & Co in 2021 and adding charity law, insolvency and regulatory work as new practice areas.

Mr Lloyd said: “The deal is further validation of our unique approach to the general legal services market: backing firms’ management teams, preserving their client facing brands, and most importantly, enhancing the prospects of their people.

“We are seeing rapidly growing interest in our proposition as it addresses the major concerns of succession, legacy and the scale of investment required to remain competitive.”

Simon Wallwork, a partner and head of corporate, who instigated and led the transaction for Slater Heelis, said: “We started the process last June and the proposition provided by Lawfront is excellent. It has a shared vision of growth and investment and enables Slater Heelis to continue and fulfil its own vision.

“This transaction will accelerate our acquisition strategy as well as allowing us to invest in our culture and the communities we operate in.”

Carl Harring, CEO at Blixt, said: “We look forward to continuing to support Lawfront on its exciting growth trajectory and delivering on its vision to transform the consumer and SME legal market, through partnering with the highest-quality law firms in the UK.”

Just last week, Slater Heelis announced it had taken serviced office space in Central London, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and York so it could service clients more locally.

Law firm M&A specialist Jeff Zindani, managing director of Acquira Professional Services, commented that this was “another smart move by Lawfront, as Slater Heelis is a first-class regional firm”.

He said: “We can see that consolidation in the legal sector is becoming a coherent and properly funded strategy and, as private equity steps up its investment, it is bound to gather more momentum, particularly around mid-sized law firms.

“I am sure there will be further acquisitions by Lawfront, but more importantly, by other strategic players in this sector.”




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