Irwin Mitchell has made its first major move in the personal injury market since rival Slater & Gordon began its acquisition spree by taking over well-known Manchester firm MPH Solicitors, Legal Futures can reveal.
MPH – set up by personal injury heavyweights Geraldine McCool, Frank Patterson and Dominic Hemsi – will operate as an alternative business structure and subsidiary of Irwin Mitchell, under its own name, from its offices in Manchester and Newmarket.
The deal, which has been rumoured in the Manchester market for some weeks, takes the number of ABS licences awarded to different elements of the Irwin Mitchell group to six, more than any other organisation.
All five directors of MPH – which spun out of Leigh Day & Co in 2004 – are moving to Irwin Mitchell, along with their team of 24 lawyers and support staff.
Andrew Tucker, chief executive of personal legal services at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This will give us greater strength in depth in an important area for our business and is in line with our strategy to take advantage of the right opportunities available to us now we are an ABS.
“We already have a very strong position and reputation in the personal legal services sector and we plan to grow our presence still further as and when any future opportunities emerge.”
Irwin Mitchell has been growing in a less high-profile manner than Slater & Gordon, with a range of partner hires across both its personal and business services divisions, along with three acquisitions by its debt recovery arm Ascent. It is now two and a half years since the firm said it was seeking external capital, but there has been no public statement on the progress it has made on it since.
Group chief executive John Pickering said: “We have developed clear plans to expand our business across all the markets we operate within, both in the UK and internationally. This deal is one example of that but we will continue to work to find other opportunities to grow Irwin Mitchell into a very significant presence in the legal sector.”
Ms McCool said: “These are difficult times for victims of personal injury and clinical negligence and their families due to recent funding and procedural changes and we believe that having access to greater resources, ancillary services and like-minded lawyers will help us to help them to meet these challenges. We will also be able to offer them help in other areas of law as they proceed through life.
“The synergies between the two firms in niche areas such as MoD claims, asbestos-related work and clinical negligence, with clients such as the Communication Workers Union and the commitment to pro bono work is compelling; we look forward to the future together.”
Ms McCool is also a former head of personal injury at Pannone, the fellow Manchester firm that Slater & Gordon finally admitted this week it is in talks to acquire.