Cobbetts managing partner Shaw steps down after 16 years at helm

Cobbetts managing partner Michael Shaw has stepped down after 16 years at the helm of the north-west firm, with the news emerging weeks after merger talks with regional rival DWF broke down.

Shaw (pictured), who helped build Cobbetts from a 175-strong Manchester office to a firm with 750 staff working from four offices across the UK and a base in Egypt, will remain at Cobbetts as a consultant.

Expansion under his watch included mergers with Leeds-based Read Hind Stewart in 2002 and Birmingham-based Lee Crowder two years later, with London opening in 2007 and Cobbetts International launching in Cairo in early 2010.

The news comes after Cobbetts and DWF called off merger talks at the end of January due to “current uncertainty in market conditions”. The merger talks, which first came to light in November 2011, would have catapulted the united firm into the UK top 30, with combined revenues of around £128m.

Commenting on his decision to step down Shaw said: “The time now feels right to hand over the reins as the firm begins a new era, and so I will not be seeking re-election to the role. I would like to extend my thanks to all staff and clients for making the job so enjoyable.”

Senior partner and chairman Stephen Benson said: “Michael steps down as managing partner knowing he is held in the highest regard by all staff. I am delighted he will remain as a consultant to Cobbetts as we press ahead with our plans for future growth.”

Cobbetts posted a marginal increase in turnover in 2010-11 from £43.8m to £44.5m Audited figures put 2010-11 turnover at £44.7m with the previous year’s revenue at £44.1m. The increase in revenues came after the firm returned most of its transactional staff to a full working week in May 2010 after introducing a four-day week in May 2009 as a result of the recession. The firm also conducted three separate redundancy rounds during the financial crisis.