Private equity-owned law firms progress acquisition strategies

Lynch: Moving quickly on acquisition opportunities

One private equity-owned law firm has unveiled its latest acquisition, while another has announced a re-financing deal so it can buy more firms.

Stowe Family Law, the country’s largest specialist family law practice, has acquired Hawkins Family Law, a boutique practice headquartered in Milton Keynes with offices also in Bicester, Watford and London.

Twelve lawyers and 10 other staff are moving over, with founder Jo Hawkins taking on a consultancy role.

It is Stowe’s fourth acquisition in just over two years, following Chapman Pieri in North London in 2022 and last year Watson Thomas in Hampshire and Surrey and 17-office South-East firm Crisp & Co. It has approaching 200 lawyers now and now more than 90 offices.

Stowe chairman Ken Fowlie said: “As we continue to pursue our mission to become the UK’s first choice for family law, this acquisition is another exciting step towards our goal. We are always looking for new ways to grow our presence and better serve our clients in 2024, and beyond.”

Private equity firm Livingbridge acquired Stowe in 2017 and has helped growth it massively since then.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest specialist injury practice, Fletchers Group, has struck a new re-financing deal.

Fletchers has been owned by private equity company Sun European since 2021 but has agreed a long-term loan with Pemberton, a leading European asset manager specialising in private debt and backed by Legal & General.

As well as consolidating all of the group’s debt under one facility, Pemberton will also provide an acquisition fund which chief financial officer Alex Lynch said would “support our inorganic growth strategy and enable us to move quickly to fulfil our pipeline opportunities”.

She added: “Our sights are set firmly on reaching our medium term target of achieving £150m in revenue with a team of 1,500 colleagues, and this new agreement is an important step in that direction.”

Ms Lynch said Fletchers would continue to partner with RBS, its banker for more than 20 years, which would provide working capital via a revolving credit facility to support “continuing investment” in growing the firm’s work in progress.

“When Sun European affiliates invested in Fletchers in October 2021, we had approximately 450 people and revenue of £34m. Now, with Blume, Cycle SOS, Minton Morill and SIL [Serious Injury Law] in the group portfolio, we will hire our 1,000th colleague and break £100m in revenues by the end of this financial year [30 April 2025].”

Bolton and Cambridge firm SIL was the most recent deal, unveiled at the start of the year.

Asked why Sun was not providing the backing, Ms Lynch told Legal Futures: “Sun European Partners is absolutely committed to investing in Fletchers growth over the long-term, both through taking on more cases and investing in acquisitions.

“Our new financing arrangements means the business can also invest on its own behalf and move quickly to access funds, allowing us to move on good opportunities.”

Cassandra Fahy, managing director of origination at Pemberton, added: “Fletchers has delivered impressive growth over a period of regulatory and market change and is now well placed to capitalise on their leading position in a market where technology and scale are key differentiators.”

In other acquisition news, fee-share law firm has bought data centre specialist law firm Conexus Law. It will operate as arch.conexus.

The 14-strong team’s clients include owners, operators, funders and end-users of data centres. Conexus also advises clients in other sectors where the built environment and technology converge – such as transport, sports stadia and logistics. founder Andrew Leaitherland, the former chief executive of DWF, has built a technology-led model, recruiting senior lawyers as consultants – retaining up to 85% of their fees – as well as both qualified lawyers and others, such as paralegals, to work on a contract basis or even be employed by, possibly as a stepping stone to become a consultant.

It now has over 100 members and nine hubs across the UK, Australia and Canada.

Conexus founder Ed Booke, who is staying as a consultant as he transitions his client base across, said: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the development of both our businesses. Our clients are very supportive of us as a business and the broader geographical reach as well as extensive skill set has will bring many tangible benefits.”

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Keeping the conversation going beyond Pride Month

As I reflect on all the celebrations of Pride Month 2024, I ask myself why there remains hesitancy amongst LGBTQ+ staff members about when it comes to being open about their identity in the workplace.

Third-party managed accounts: Your key questions answered

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has given strong indications that it is headed towards greater restrictions on law firms when it comes to handling client money.

Understanding vicarious trauma in the legal workplace

Vicarious trauma can happen to anyone who works with clients who have experienced trauma such as domestic or other violence, child abuse, sexual assault, torture or being a refugee.

Loading animation