PII renewal heralds annual M&A rush among law firms

Rothera Bray: Senior partner Tim Gladdle with CEO Christina Yardley

The 1 October indemnity insurance deadline many law firms still adhere to has been marked by the usual rush of merger activity up and down the country.

Fletchers Group, the serious injury law firm owned by private equity house Sun European Partners, has acquired the personal injury division of Leeds firm Emsleys, with all 28 staff, including fee-earners and support staff, transferring over to Fletchers’ Leeds office, which opened in February.

Peter Haden, chief executive of Fletchers Group, said: “The acquisition of Emsleys fits in line with our strategy to acquire high-quality, complementary companies that grow and enhance the Fletchers offering, extend our reach in the region and expand our client base.”

In the East Midlands, Nottingham-based Rotheras and Bray & Bray in Leicester have become Rothera Bray, bringing together firms best known for their private client and corporate/commercial work respectively.

The new firm has 27 partners and a 200-strong team operating from eight offices in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

Chief executive Christina Yardley said: “Rothera Bray LLP is a merger of two thriving firms coming together as one, committed to our people focused approach as the firm that everyone can grow with.

“As well as expanding our geographical reach and the breadth of expertise we can offer to clients we are proud to become one of the top 200 UK law firms by revenue for the first time.”

Senior partner Tim Gladdle added: “The merger is an excellent opportunity for us to expand the expertise within our teams whilst growing and developing our offering to clients across the East Midlands and nationally.”

In Devon, Kitsons and Boyce Hatton have created Kitson Boyce, with offices in Exeter, Plymouth and Totnes alongside the head office in Torquay. The combined firm has 20 partners and more than 30 other legal professionals.

Rhodri Davey, managing partner at Kitsons, takes that role at the new firm, with his counterpart from Boyce Hatton, Kate Barton, joining the leadership team.

Mr Davey said the merger was driven “by a shared belief that the two firms, deeply rooted in the South West and sharing similar cultures, can leverage their complementary strengths to offer an even broader spectrum of services to clients”.

Irwin Mitchell, hot off the heels of its major acquisition in Scotland, is adding Silk Family Law, a 25-person firm with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Ros Bever, director of legal services, family, said: “This strategic investment will expand our expertise and reach in the North East of England, and I’m excited about our combined future.”

Weightmans has boosted its cross-border travel claims practice by buying Anglo-French firm Pierre Thomas Law, which handles international personal injury claims and the defence of accident claims throughout Europe. Eight people have moved over and are based in Weightmans’ London office.

Fee-share law firm Spencer West has announced its first acquisition, London private wealth boutique Hieron, with six partners and one other fee-earner moving across,

Spencer West has also brought six-partner London firm Selig & Partners onto its platform, and taken on eight partners from the collapsed Axiom Ince (plus 11 other team members), taking it to nearly 200 partners since its formation in 2018.

The firm is opening an office in Birmingham to house 14 of the Axiom Ince staff based in the city, and will next open in London’s Mayfair for the Selig and Hierons team as it targets the private wealth market.

Co-founder Simeon Spencer said: “Our first acquisition is further proof that our business is in a position where it can move beyond just focussing on organic partner and team recruitment to more substantial transactions where the right firm becomes available, and Hierons LLP certainly fits that bill.”

Manchester-based Prosperity Law has acquired Carrick Read, a five-person specialist insolvency and volume debt recovery practice in Leeds.

Ed Smethurst, managing partner at Prosperity Law, described the deal as “a perfect opportunity for us” to grow, while Carrick Read principal Andrew Laycock aid it would “enable us to provide a wider base of services than previously and also increase the geographical reach of the extended firm”.

Prosperity Law also has offices in Liverpool and London.

In other firm growth news, Yorkshire-based personal injury firm Minster Law has moved into Scotland by hiring Marina Harper from Harper Mcleod to head up a new operation in Glasgow.

In London, MEUM Group has launched, promising to “transform the traditional model of delivering professional services to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, their businesses, and their investments” by creating a one-stop shop of services.

It has been set up by four solicitors: Sofia Syed, an employment and reputation management lawyer, and commercial litigator Gregor Kleinknecht, who were both previously partners at Keystone Law, family lawyer Julie Taylor, formerly a partner at Spencer West, and investment management specialist Gray Smith, formerly a partner at Smith Hamilton.

Insurance distributor and underwriter Abacai has entered into a strategic partnership with HF, which includes transferring 24 members of the Abacai volume claims teams to the Manchester-based insurance law firm.

Ronan McCann, chief executive and managing partner of HF, said: “Adding the team from Abacai gives us the opportunity to maximise the skills and expertise of both organisations in a way that benefits our people, clients and customers.”

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