PE-backed firm tops 80-office mark after latest acquisition

Fowlie: Expanded presence in South-East

Private equity-owned Stowe Family Law has made its third acquisition in the past 18 months by buying Crisp & Co, a 17-office practice based in the South-East.

Such is the existing spread of Stowe’s practice, however, that it only adds seven new locations – all in Greater London – taking it to 86 offices in total.

These are Camden, Canary Wharf, Chelsea, Hammersmith, Kingston upon Thames, Southwark and the City.

Crisp & Co – set up by Henry and Michele Crisp in 1996 – has retained its branding. It has five partners and 16 other staff. It also had offices in Bath, Bristol and Manchester.

Stowe in total has over 160 lawyers spread across all those offices. A spokeswoman explained that they are “a mix of standalone offices and designated spaces in serviced offices”. The lawyers work across multiple offices, “supporting clients across a cluster of locations”.

Stowe chairman Ken Fowlie said: “The addition of to the Stowe family will serve to add depth and breadth to our offering, and help us expand our presence in London and across the South and South West regions.

“Enquiries into the firm continue to trend high as divorce figures increase across the UK, and the acquisition will help us support more families as they navigate the issues associated with a relationship breakdown.”

Earlier this year, Stowe has bought Watson Thomas, a three-partner family law firm with offices in Fleet and Winchester in Hampshire, and Guildford in Surrey, and in 2022 made its first acquisition, Chapman Pieri in North London.

In other merger news, Kent firm Cripps, which also has an office in London, has expanded its presence in the South-East by buying commercial law firm PDT Solicitors, based in Horsham, West Sussex.

PDT recorded a turnover of £5m in its 2022/23 financial year and employs over 50 staff, including 29 fee-earners. Its managing partner, James Clewlow, will join the Cripps board.

Cripps has more than 430 staff and turned over £45m in its last financial year. Managing partner James Beatton said: “Our ambition is to be the pre-eminent law firm in the South, and this merger takes us another step closer to that goal.”

Carolyn Burbridge and Alastair Shaw, founders of London technology law firm William Grace, together with their colleague Claudia Vincenzi, have joined Level, the London fee-share law firm focused solely on media, entertainment, technology and sport.

Ms Burbridge said: “Joining forces with Level is a natural evolution for William Grace, which shares Level’s passion for combining specialist legal expertise with a next generation model.”

Amy Sullivan, head of growth at Level, said: The arrival of the team from William Grace marks a significant milestone in Level’s journey to build the best firm for lawyers and clients working in our four chosen sectors.”

In York, Hethertons has merged with employment and dispute resolution firm AJC Law. They will operate under the Hethertons name, with AJC founder Anthony Corps joining as a director.

“Our merger with AJC Law will enhance our dispute resolution capabilities, offering our clients an elevated level of service backed by wider expertise and a broader resource pool,” said Tom Henry, a director at Hethertons.

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