M&A: Big firms buy small as listed legal practices swap advisory business

Farrington Law: Now part of Jackson Lees

Large firms swallowing up small practices has been the theme of a spate of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), while one listed law firm has picked up a corporate advisory business sold by another.

Merseyside-based Jackson Lees Group, part of the MAPD Group, has acquired three-person private client firm Farrington Law, giving it a new office in Churchtown near Southport and fourth in the region in total.

Jackson Lees managing director Esther Leach said: “Expanding our geographic reach and growing our client base across the North West is a fantastic opportunity for us; we’ve got a really strong presence in Wirral and Liverpool, and growing further north towards Southport gives us a much bigger footprint.”

Caroline Farrington said she had reached the point where she could not grow Farrington Law on her own. “We have become a part of a very special company and we can offer our clients a wide range of services and support which we simply couldn’t before.”

West Midlands firm Higgs has acquired two-lawyer insolvency and restructuring firm Lewis Onions.

Higgs’ senior partner Nick Moxon said: “Lewis Onions Solicitors has been a well-known and respected firm in Birmingham for over two decades, so this is a meeting of minds and alignment of ambitions.

“This acquisition will expand our services to clients with Lewis’s team bringing substantial restructuring and insolvency experience to supplement Lauren Hartigan-Pritchard and her team.

“At the same time, we can offer Lewis’ clients a full range of services from our employment, property and corporate teams that previously the team would have needed to refer elsewhere.”

The eponymous Mr Onions said: “This move allows me to focus on client work and allows me to support the exciting ambitions of the Higgs team.

“I believe that our clients will instantly benefit from the expertise and range of services that Higgs can deliver, and our team will also benefit from the greater resources that Higgs can provide.”

Davies & Partners has grown its presence in Gloucester by taking over Iacopi Palmer, boosting its medical negligence and Court of Protection practices in particular.

Davies & Partners, which also has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London and North Devon, employs over 140 staff, with Iacopi Palmer adding another 12.

Ewan Lockhart, Davies’ chief executive, said: “There are several synergies between the two firms which make it a natural fit in our continued growth plans. Our roots have been in Gloucester for over 30 years and merging with a firm that has such a strong local presence is a great advantage.”

Multi-office Derbyshire firm Hopkins Solicitors has acquired Miles & Cash, a small children and care law firm based in Heanor. Its office has been renovated and with more solicitors based there now offers a wide range of other services.

Miles & Cash’s managing partner, Chris Sedgwick, said, “Our search for a law firm to transform the business was easy – having known a number of the Hopkins staff personally, we knew they held the same values and high levels of quality service.

“In addition, we knew that during their previous acquisitions of other local law firms, they ensured that existing clients knew that the business was still there to support them, and that the employees felt secure and supported on their future career growth.”

Davies, the professional services and technology business for the insurance market, has acquired five-partner commercial and maritime litigation firm Shoreside Law, adding the City practice to its existing legal services business, Keoghs. It is the first add-on since buying Keoghs in 2020.

Davies group chief executive Dan Saulter said: “Shoreside Law has an excellent track record of delivering outstanding results on a range of large, complex, and sensitive issues.”

Listed law firm Knights has unveiled a joint venture with the former management of Convex Capital, a leading sell-side only M&A advisory firm to form Convex Corporate Finance.

Manchester-based Convex was previously owned by another listed legal business, RBG Holdings, which bought it in 2019 for £22m.

RBG, which owns law firms Rosenblatt and Memery Crystal, has been restructuring to focus on its core legal services and previously indicated a management buy-out of Convex was a possibility.

Knights said the move was in line with its strategy to diversify the range of professional services available to clients. It provided £2.6m of debt and equity financing to Convex, funded from its existing cash resources.

In a statement to investors, Knights said: “As market confidence returns, the substantial professional synergies driving this joint venture will provide Convex clients with access to Knights’ legal M&A and private wealth services at the inception of a potential disposal ensuring high-quality legal and tax advice is available to them from the outset of their exit strategy.”

Finally, NAHL, the listed company that owns National Accident Helpline and National Accident Law, has said it is exploring the possible sale of its critical care business, Bush & Company Rehabilitation.

Issuing a statement in response to market speculation, it said: “The board is pleased with the progress that Bush & Co has made in growing revenues and profitability and continues to believe that there is an exciting opportunity for that business in its market.

“However, the board is always considering strategic options that seek to accelerate growth in value for shareholders and can confirm that it is currently investigating the potential sale of Bush & Co.

“Whilst an adviser has been appointed in relation to a potential sale of Bush & Co, this matter is at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that a sale of Bush & Co will occur, nor as to the terms or timing of such sale. No discussions have taken place with any potential purchaser and no approach for the business has been received.”

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