BLM takes 33-strong Slater and Gordon team as Australian-listed firm redraws UK presence

BLM has sealed the hire of 33 lawyers from Slater and Gordon, including 11 partners, following a strategic review of the struggling Australian-listed firm’s UK operations.

Slaters launched the review of its UK business legal services team this summer amid poor financial results and mounting debts, with the Australian firm splitting off its UK arm into a holding company owned by its senior lenders.

The hires for BLM, which come after it confirmed it was in talks with Slaters over potential hires last month, will see the firm launch a new commercial advisory practice, comprising lawyers based across Manchester and London.

The team is led by Slaters’ national head of business legal services Stephen Lintott, who was previously national head of real estate at Manchester firm Pannone, which was acquired by Slaters in 2014.

The other ten lawyers joining BLM as partners are Manchester real estate lawyers Tessa Leonard, Stephen Crook and Mark Alexander, Manchester employment lawyer Jim Lister, Manchester intellectual property lawyer Steve Kuncewicz, Manchester disputes lawyers Nick Gee and Craig McAdam, Manchester construction lawyer Jahanara Hussain, Manchester  corporate partner Daniel Varney and London real estate lawyer Peter Klim.

BLM senior partner Mike Brown (pictured) said: “We have made no secret of the fact that we want to diversify into additional areas of law which complement our core insurance offering. Part of our strategy is to expand the range and reach of services that we can offer to our customers. Therefore, being joined by our new colleagues is in line with that approach. We are now able to offer new services and products to our existing customers and have the opportunity to develop completely new customers both within the UK and internationally.

“We have engaged in discussions with Slater and Gordon for quite some time. We knew they were making plans to restructure their business to focus on core consumer services, and we were seriously exploring our diversification strategy. It is a logical move for both businesses.”

The restructuring at Slaters comes as it attempts to stabilise its business in the UK, in the wake of its ill-fated £637m takeover of the professional services arm of Quindell in 2015. The firm has since made a series of staff cuts and office closures, and in February significantly wrote down the value of the UK business.

This June, Slaters’ lenders took control of the beleaguered firm as part of a recapitalisation plan led by New York hedge fund Anchorage Capital.

Last month, Legal Week reported that the firm had moved more than 40 of its UK partners out of its partnership in the year to 30 June 2017, with a further 12 partners leaving in the same period.

According to ex-partners, the move to convert LLP members to employees came amid fears among partners that their capital could be at risk in the event of the debt-laden business going into administration.

During 2016-17, BLM saw revenue fall from £107.7m to £106.7m, while profit per equity partner increased 21% to £232,000. In August, the firm confirmed that it was cutting 50 secretarial and back-office staff following a redundancy consultation.