Pinsent Masons LLP

  • Overview

THE SCOOP

 

Pinsent Masons is historically known for the strength of its employment and property teams and boasts a leading construction practice. Well regarded for its expertise in advising AIM clients, Pinsent Masons is an international firm that ranked 15th in Legal Week's 2008 UK Top 50 firms by income. It also ranks in the top 10 for advising FTSE 250 clients and in the top 15 for advising FTSE 100 clients. While 2008 was a rough year for many firms, at Pinsent Masons turnover exceeded the £200 million mark for the first time in the firm's history.

Merging into being

Today's Pinsent Masons was formed through a series of mergers, the first of which occurred in 1995 between Simpson Curtis in Yorkshire and Pinsent & Co in Birmingham. In 2001, the firm merged with Biddle, a 29-partner London practice particularly well known for its private equity work, one of Pinsent's key markets. Economic conditions at the beginning of the 21st century built an unfavourable backdrop for growth, and as commercial markets dried up Pinsents sought another London merger. In 2004, the firm settled upon Masons, a market leader for its construction practice and strong in the IT and outsourcing sectors. The tie-up was the largest UK legal merger since Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte joined forces in 2000, and gave Pinsents the opportunity to cross-sell its corporate services to Masons' clients.

Despite some growing pains, by 2006, Pinsent Masons' partner profits had soared by 71 per cent, and a period of stability and growth followed. For the financial year 2006-2007, net profit exploded by 90 per cent to £53.6 million, while profit per equity partner (PEP) more than doubled. The firm evolved culturally, too, providing bonuses for trainees, a new career path for secretaries and ranking 67th in a new list of the UK's 100 most gay-friendly employers compiled by gay rights group Stonewall. In 2009 the firm climbed to 50th place. The firm's growth continued in 2008, albeit more slowly, and at the half-year mark, Pinsent Masons reported a 6 per cent growth in turnover, citing its litigation and outsourcing, technology and commercial groups as key growth areas.

Talent round-up

In 2008, Pinsent Masons brought on board the former head of Eversheds' Birmingham commercial practice, Peter McHugh, to lead Pinsent Masons' commercial practice, part of the firm's outsourcing, technology and commercial group. Meanwhile, the firm's tax practice benefited from the addition of Eloise Walker, who joined from Linklaters as a new tax partner in November 2008. The firm had also hired Linklaters partner Chris Tate in September to boost its banking practice. That same month, Pinsent Masons recruited Rowley Ashworth partner Howard Ridley to join its pensions team in Manchester.

Taking AIM

Boasting 57 AIM clients, Pinsent Masons is reigning champion of AIM matters in the UK. The firm's equity capital markets team has advised on the listing of more than 50 companies on AIM, and in February 2009, the firm retained pole position in Hemscott's quarterly ranking of law firms by AIM client numbers. The firm also ranked No. 1 for the number of its clients in the AIM UK 50. In a period when many firms were losing AIM clients, Pinsent Masons actually managed to boost its roster numbers and added two new clients. In January 2009, Pinsent Masons launched its own online AIM portal (www.makingaimeasier.com), containing guidance for companies considering taking this step.

While the economic downturn in 2008 saw far fewer companies going public, in 2007 Pinsent Masons advised China Medial System Holdings on its £65.2 million admission and £10 million pound placing on AIM. The transaction was one of a series of Chinese listings handled by the firm, which included the admissions of digital surveillance company BlueStar, Sinosoft Technology, ReneSola and HaiKe Chemical Group. The IPO of ReneSola was particularly praised, earning the title of "Renewable Energy Investment of the Year" at the 2007 AIM Investment Awards. More recently, Pinsent Masons' corporate team closed the first listing of a Chinese company in the Middle East in October 2008, when China Security & Surveillance Technology made a secondary listing on the Dubai International Financial Exchange. The firm also advised Yujin International Ltd, a Singapore holding company, on its admission to AIM in February 2009.

Keeping busy in 2009

Since the start of 2009, Pinsent Masons has landed a number of significant instructions. The firm was appointed to the legal panel for LV= in April 2009, advised Barclays Bank on the emergency restructuring of JJB Sports and was named to Glasgow City Council's legal panel. Pinsent Masons also acted for the consortium of Viridor Waste Management Limited and John Laing plc in connection with the £640 million Greater Manchester Waste PFI project, the largest private finance initiative waste scheme in Europe. The firm also teamed up with a consortium of Chinese law firms to win the role of advisor on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project, a project to build a 36-kilometre bridge between mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Shuffle and scale back

Defying the troubled economic times, Pinsent Masons broke new ground in April 2008 when it announced a bonus scheme for trainees, lining up the firm's newest members with a possible £5,000 slap-on-the-back on qualification. Logging over 2,000 hours of work in one year guarantees trainees an automatic bonus, while going the extra mile by relocating to another office or working unsociable hours also puts trainees in the running.

Since then, as much of the legal industry has been swept by redundancies, Pinsent Masons has made efforts to save its talent by shuffling lawyers in afflicted sectors into practice groups and offices with more work coming in by way of secondment. Several lawyers were also voluntarily seconded to Dubai and Asia. In March 2009, the firm decided to eliminate one of its three two-week summer schemes. According to the firm, the reason is less the economy than the need to accommodate two new diversity programmes. Thirty-five students will be joining the firm for work placements through the Legal Launch Pad and Pathways to Law programmes.

In June 2009, as the firm reviewed further cost-cutting measures, including part-time work arrangements, sabbaticals and a pay freeze, Managing Partner David Ryan suggested there might be some redundancies as well, although, according to The Lawyer, the job cuts would be "minimal". In mid-July 2009, after the firm posted a 38 per cent fall in PEP for the 2008-2009 financial year, The Lawyer reported that 19 employees, including lawyers and support staff, had been made redundant.

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Pinsent Masons LLP


CityPoint
One Ropemaker Street
London EC2Y 9AH
Phone: +44 (0)20 7418 7000
www.pinsentmasons.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing partner: David Ryan
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 1,000

Major Office Locations

  • Shanghai, China
  • Beijing, China
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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