Travers Smith LLP

The Scoop

Travers Smith is among the stronger firms in the mid- to high market, with an award-winning private equity group. A full-service firm with an emphasis on the corporate side and on private equity in particular, Travers Smith boasts a more collegiate feel than many of its rivals, and it is lauded for its traditional partnership structure and laid-back environment in a notoriously demanding industry.

City stalwart

One of the oldest law firms in the City, Travers Smith's traditional approach dates back to the late 18th century. One of its earliest partners drafted the constitution of the first Stock Exchange in 1801. The firm took its name from its senior partner of 1851, Joseph Travers Smith, whose clients included the Westminster Bank. With the arrival of Stephen Braithwaite in 1873, the firm became Travers Smith Braithwaite, only to drop the "Braithwaite" in 2005.

While much of the City went expansion-mad in the 1990s, Travers Smith stood out for its decision to avoid over-reaching. Retaining its focus on the London market, the firm weathered a difficult patch in the early part of the 21st century as deal markets dried up across Europe, but began to pick up pace again in 2005. All along, the firm has emphasised cautious organic growth in order to preserve its jealously guarded culture, which is one of its major selling points when it comes to recruiting new talent.

Riding out the recession

Like many firms, Travers Smith had to undertake some cost-cutting measures during the economic downturn. Nevertheless, despite the declining state of the economy, Travers Smith still garnered some sizeable new business in 2008. Among other new clients, Travers Smith picked up UK buyout houses Silverfleet Capital and Darwin Private Equity, as well as investment banks Greenhill & Co and Goldman Sachs. The firm also made its way onto a new M&A panel set up by health care provider Bupa, selected by the company to deal with work valued between £30 million and £250 million.

A first time for everything

Until 2011, Travers Smith had only provided English law advice, but that February, the firm brought in its first US-qualified partner with the hire of Clifford Chance equity capital markets partner Charles Casassa. According to the firm, the move was a response to requests from American corporate clients pressing for US securities advice. In another firm first, Travers Smith included a partner with a part-time schedule in its 2011 round of promotions. While other partners have worked part time, the promotion of senior associate Emily Clark represents the first time the firm has made up a lawyer who already works-and will continue to work-on a part-time basis.

Recent News

A bowl of noodles and a closet full of shoes

Among other notable transactions since the start of 2011, the firm advised The Carlyle Group in connection with its acquisition of The Foundry Visionmongers Limited, and acted for long-time clients, the Wagamama management team, in connection with the buy-out of the noodle restaurant chain by Duke Street Capital from Lion Capital. Travers Smith had also advised Wagamama on the sale to Lion Capital in 2005.

In May 2011, Travers Smith advised another long-time client, Tamara Mellon OBE, the founder of Jimmy Choo, in the sale of her high-end shoe label to the Austria-based luxury fashion group, Labelux, for more than £500 million.

Brand-new bank

Travers Smith can take some credit for the launch of the first High Street bank in Britain in more than a century. The firm advised the newly established Metro Bank, from inception to the opening of its doors on 29 July 2010. Also that year, the firm helped Metro Bank and several other new clients-including Firstsource Solutions, Channel 4 and Safestore plc-conclude outsourcing services agreements. The firm also won Franchise Law Firm of the Year 2011 for its work on franchises for the likes of M&S Simply Food, Starbucks and WH Smith.

Litigation honours

While the firm may be best known for its corporate and private equity practices, Travers Smith's litigation team has also made a name for itself. In 2010, for example, the firm represented the Royal Bank of Scotland against a £10 million claim brought by Austrian bank Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by RBS as arranger of a syndicated loan to an Enron subsidiary. The defence win, which followed a five-week trial, was not only named one of the Top 10 Cases of the Year by The Lawyer, but also garnered Travers Smith the title of "Litigation Team of the Year" at The Lawyer Awards 2011.

Prize property

In December 2010, Travers Smith acted on the biggest European property deal of the year. The firm advised Peel Group on its agreement to acquire a major stake in UK shopping centre owner Capital Shopping Centres Group by making an equity investment of some £75 million and transferring ownership of the Trafford Centre in Manchester to CSC. With the Trafford Centre valued at £1.65 billion, the transaction was reportedly the largest single property M&A transaction in the UK and the largest European real estate deal in 2010.

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Travers Smith LLP

10 Snow Hill
London EC1A 2AL
Phone: (0)20 7295 3000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Andrew Lilley
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 282

Major Office Locations

  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France

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