Listed firms make lawyers multi-millionaires – on paper

Beech: 923rd on the list

The solicitor boss of listed law firm Knights entered the Sunday Times Rich List at the weekend, the only person among the top 1,000 to have made their fortune solely in law.

But our calculations show that solicitors at other listed law firms are also worth substantial sums – on paper at least.

David Beech was placed equal 923rd with £130m, which the newspaper said reflected his stake in a business with a stock market valuation of £294m.

The entry said: “Knights was only the fifth UK legal practice to float when it was listed in June 2018, nearly 260 years after it was founded in Staffordshire in 1759. The AIM-listed business now has a stock market valuation of £293.6m.

“Beech, 54, was hired as chief executive in 2011, determined to turn the Newcastle-under-Lyme business into the UK’s No 1 legal and professional services company outside London, and on his watch annual revenues have grown from £8m to £52.7m in 2018-19.

“He qualified as a lawyer in 1990 and worked in legal sector management until 2004, when he left to raise and run a private equity fund. He owns a 44.32% stake worth £130.1m in Knights, in which former Dragons’ Den panellist James Caan invested for four years before its float.”

The most up-to-date figures show that Mr Beech now has 39.6% of Knights’ shares, although as of yesterday its market capitalisation was slightly higher at £297m. This values his stake at nearly £118m.

Legal Futures has looked at the other listed law firms. Keystone Law boss James Knight has 34.2% of its shares. Yesterday, the firm’s market cap was just shy of £133m, making his stake worth £45.5m. Operations director William Robins has 5%, worth £6.7m.

RBG Holdings, which owns City law firm Rosenblatt, is the smallest of the listed law firms, and founder Ian Rosenblatt has a 19.76% stake in a business valued at £62m – making it worth £12.3m. Chief executive Nicola Foulston has 13.45%, worth £8.3m.

Chief executive Adrian Biles is the largest single shareholder at the Ince Group, with 16%, but its share price has declined sharply this year, having already fallen a third in 2019, and the firm is currently valued at just £15.8m. That makes his holding worth £2.5m.

At Gateley, the first listed firm, partners have steadily sold shares over recent years. Chief executive Michael Ward and chief operating officer Peter Davies each have 1.88% shareholdings, which amount to £3.4m each on the current market cap of £182m.

Barrister Alan Sellers is executive chairman of Anexo Group, a combined credit hire and legal services business. He holds 33.1% of its shares, worth more than £46m with a market valuation of £140m.

Solicitor Samantha Moss, who is managing director of Bond Turner, the law firm owned by Anexo, has 34%, which is worth approaching £48m.

MJ Hudson is a law firm that is multi-disciplinary and markets itself as an asset management consultancy – it listed late last year. Solicitor founder Matthew Hudson has 22.7% of the shares, worth £17.9m on a market cap of £78.8m.

The only other person named the Sunday Times whose fortune came from law was barrister Amal Clooney, but she was listed together with her husband George, and it seems likely that the lion’s share of their £275m fortune, which was put down to “drinks and film and law”, came from the first two of those sources.

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