Speechly Bircham LLP


Even after 140 years, Speechly Bircham stands firmly by its single-office strategy.  With more than 240 lawyers at its swanky City location, the firm provides transactional, advisory and disputes services to its three main markets: business clients, private clients, and clients in the real estate and construction sector.

Climbing the revenue ladder

Speechly Bircham may have a single-site strategy but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interested in growth.  In fact, the firm’s strategic plan included a goal to become one of the UK’s top 50 firms by revenueâ€"a goal realised upon the recent merger with West End firm Campbell Hooper Solicitors.  Effective 1 June 2009, the two firms united under the Speechly Bircham name in Speechlys’ New Street Square offices.  After some internal restructuring, the merged firm is now organised in three divisions: business services; real estate, construction and engineering services; and private client services.  Roughly half of the firm’s lawyers work in the business services division where specialist teams include corporate finance, banking, financial services, insolvency, tax, IP, technology, employment, pensions, immigration, data protection and commercial disputes.  Clients operate across a range of sectors that include financial services, pharmaceutical and health care, engineering, media, IT, fashion, consumer goods and retail.

The firm’s private client practice is one of the largest in London and is ranked among the top 10 in the world by Chambers Global 2009.  The group counts wealthy individuals, shareholders, families and trustees among its clients, as well as private banks, trust companies and charities.  Speechlys’ respected property division includes a team of more than 70 real estate and construction lawyers and spans the spectrum of legal advice covering commercial property, finance, tax, planning and environmental, sustainability, regeneration, infrastructure, construction, engineering and dispute services.  Clients are both UK-based and international, and include blue-chip financial institutions, property companies, urban estates, retailers and local authorities.

No one is immune

With two years of strong growth under its beltâ€"a 17.6 per cent increase in turnover in 2006-2007, followed by an 18 per cent increase in 2007-2008â€"Speechly Bircham entered 2008 in a strong position.  The Lawyer mentioned Speechlys in its list of the Rising 100 in September 2008, noting it as a potential contender for a space in the Top 100.  But by the end of the year, the firm joined the ranks of other firms undergoing redundancy consultations, and in March 2009, the talks reportedly concluded with the departure of eight lawyers.  

Keeping busy

A number of corporate instructions were on the cards for Speechly Bircham toward the end of 2008 and into early 2009.  The firm was occupied with the administration of furniture retailer MFI Group in January 2009 as legal counsel to restructuring specialist MCR, the company’s appointed administrator.  Speechlys advised on the closure process and sale of certain components of the business, and provided advice on IP and employment issues.  Speechlys also advised MCR in 2008 on the sale of The General Trading Company, a business that found fame in managing Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ wedding list.

On the corporate side, Speechly Bircham’s banking and corporate teams acted for real estate fund TRIO Finance in February 2009, on the company’s $43.6 million tender offer and buyback of shares.  The firm also advised Atlas Design Group on its acquisition of the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac group of companies from international fashion brand group Marchpole Holdings.  In a further deal, this time for Sourcecap International, Speechlys advised the asset manager on the terms of its $150 million mandate with the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).
Bake it like Beckham

Speechlys’ intellectual property group has seen significant growth in recent years, and offers a comprehensive service covering both contentious and noncontentious IP, technology and commercial work.  In January 2009, Speechlys added two new partners to the team, whose clients include 3M, Merrill Communications, Second Life and BancTec.  The new additions will help the firm move toward a stronger data protection and IT offering: Nathalaie Moreno specialised in IT, telecoms and data protection in her role as head of telecoms at Beachcroft, while Vinod Bange headed up Eversheds’ data privacy group.  

In recent IP work, Speechly advised food producer GO3 on licensing David Beckham as an endorser for a new range of healthy food.  The process involved the registration of new trademarks, negotiating licensing agreements for the use of Beckham’s image, and advice on supply and manufacturing agreements. In November 2008, Speechly advised Coolabi on its £400,000 acquisition of Licensing by Design, owner of such assets as British children’s TV classics “Bagpussâ€, “The Clangers†and “Ivor the Engineâ€.  Coolabi, which specialises in the development of children’s IP assets, is best known for its Purple Ronnie characters.

New faces

The firm has grown in areas other than intellectual property.  In late 2008, Speechlys hired Graeme Kleiner as the new head of its contentious trusts group, which sits within its private client department.  Kleiner defected from Withers, a firm widely renowned for its strength in private client matters, and brought with him experience in complex multi-jurisdictional trust and succession disputes, significantly enhancing Speechlys’ capacity to accept high-quality international private client work.  The employment group has also expanded, thanks to the hire of Robert Thomas, former head of Eversheds’ employment law team in Cardiff, in March 2009.

Fraud fighters

In February 2009, Speechly Bircham joined a global alliance to coordinate the legal response on behalf of victims of the investment fraud committed by American businessman Bernard Madoff.  Speechlys teamed up with 34 other law firms from 22 countries representing banks, hedge funds, public authorities and individual investors.  Speechlys represents a number of individual claimants.  The alliance, which held its first meeting in Madrid on 17 February, will allow firms to coordinate legal actions across jurisdictions and to share information and ideas.
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Speechly Bircham LLP

6 New Street Square
London EC4A 3LX
Phone: +44 (0)20 7427 6400


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing partner: Michael Lingens
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 240

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