Trowers & Hamlins LLP

  • Overview
THE SCOOP

Trowers & Hamlins boasts a strong reputation in several areas, including real estate, construction and the public sector, and its well-established network of Middle Eastern offices has been a lucrative source of business.  The firm has seen several years of good profits, most recently reporting a 14 per cent rise in turnover for 2007-2008.  By the first half of financial year 2008-2009, revenue had climbed by 16 per centâ€"exceeding the firm’s own projections.  

Out of the 18th century and into the 21st

Since its founding in 1777, Trowers & Hamlins has seen no less than 20 different incarnations.  Its current name came from Walter Trower, who became a partner in 1886, and an associated firm, Hamlin & Grammar, which was operating in 1875.  After a lengthy alliance, the two firms tied the knot in 1987 to form Trowers & Hamlins.  A period of major expansion came for the firm in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Trowers opened offices in Oman in 1980, in Exeter in 1984, in Dubai in 1991, and in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Cairo in 1993, 1998 and 1999 respectively.  In October 2008, Trowers made the conversion to LLP status, which applies to its three UK offices in London, Manchester and Exeter, as well as to its offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (from March 2009).

Trowers made moves to reinforce its numbers in 2008, and in June the firm picked up Pinsent Masons’ Birmingham construction head, Vijay Bange, to join its projects and construction team.  In Oman, Trowers bolstered its corporate group in July 2008 by bringing on a new partner from Charter Pacific Capital, an Australian investment house.  Robert Byrne joined the office as its fourth partner.  In Manchester, the firm added banking and finance partner Neil Waller, who joined the firm from TLT Solicitors to specialise in social housing finance, particularly the financing of registered social landlords.  The Manchester office saw a number of other additions in 2008, including Karen Andrews, a leading adviser on the Government’s Building Schools for the Future Programme, and environmental lawyer Amanda Stubbs.

Serious about Syria

Trowers has built up a significant presence in the Middle East, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, Cairo and Bahrain bringing in about 20 per cent of the firm’s overall revenue.  In Abu Dhabiâ€"where Abu Dhabi Ports Company is one of the firm’s major clientsâ€"the firm advises on projects and corporate and commercial matters, and has particular strength in private equity, oil and gas, and major infrastructure projects.  In Dubai, the firm’s coverage is broad, from noncontentious corporate and commercial work, including M&A and joint ventures, to litigation and employment matters.

In February 2009, Trowers broke new ground by moving into Syria, becoming the first major international firm to establish a presence in the region.  After advising the Syrian government on social housing matters, the firm formed an exclusive association with Syrian firm Sultans Law and is currently focusing on the region’s growing projects sector, while keeping an eye open for opportunities to work in neighbouring Iraq.  The Syrian lawyers will be offered training at Trowers’ Gulf offices, while the firm will second one of its own lawyers to Damascus.

In April 2009, the firm was named lead counsel to the Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), which will assume operation of the Bahrain International Airport and oversee its expansion and redevelopment.  BAC is a subsidiary of Mumtalakat, the investment arm of the Kingdom of Bahrain.Feeling the pinch

However, by the start of 2009, the Middle East market showed its vulnerability to the global downturn.  Just a week after launching its associated office in Damascus, the firm cut seven banking and finance associates from other offices in the region, including five lawyers in Dubai, one in Muscat and one in Riyadh.

Shortly after the Middle East teams were trimmed, the firm launched a second round of redundancies, this time targeting four real estate staff in the Manchester and Exeter offices.  A third round of redundancy consultations resulted in the loss of 17 staff from the London office in April 2009.  Trowers also announced that it would be cutting benefits and cancelling the upcoming salary review for staff in its Middle East offices.  

Notwithstanding the cost-cutting measures, in March 2009, the firm made up seven new partners to its non-equity rung, nearly double the number who were appointed in 2008.  Four of the promotions were in London, with the others in Manchester, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.  
 
Balancing act

A solid percentage of the firm’s income has traditionally come from its property practice, where the firm enjoys an excellent reputation.  The firm has a healthy split between public and private sector clients in this sector and the leading social housing practice.  Thanks to this balance, the firm benefitted from a growth in public sector work in 2008, driven largely by Building Schools for the Future PFI work, and (mostly) weathered a slump in private-finance-dependent real estate work.  The firm counts organisations like the Metropolitan Housing Association and East Thames Housing Group among its clients, and the Crown Estate recently added Trowers to its urban residential panel.

Among recent matters, Trowers advised Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on an innovative joint-venture agreement with developer John Laing to regenerate certain sites in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook, Paddock Wood and Southborough.  The 50/50 partnership between the Council and the developers is the first arrangement of its kindâ€"a Local Authority Asset Backed Vehicle (LABV)â€"to be established in the UK and was completed in December 2008.  The plan involves the redevelopment of 38 major sites across the four towns, including civic, retail, commercial, community and residential projects, and the LABV will invest £150 million over 10 years.  In Wales, Trowers advised on the transfer of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s housing stock to Merthyr Valley Homes Limited, a newly created Registered Social Landlord.  The transfer, completed at the end of March 2009, unlocks the funding for a £40 million improvement programme involving 4,262 homes.
▲ Show Less▼ Show Full Description


Trowers & Hamlins LLP


Sceptre Court
40 Tower Hill
London EC3N 4DX
Phone: +44 (0)20 7423 8000
www.trowers.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Senior Partner: Jonathan Adlington
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 332

Major Office Locations

  • Manama, Bahrain
  • Masqat-matrah, Oman
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Cairo, Egypt
▲ Show Less▼ Show All