Withers LLP

  • Overview
The Scoop

With top rankings in private client/wealth management from Chambers Asia and in family, private client and contentious trusts from Chambers UK, and having received Spears’ “Law Firm of the Year (Private Client)†award for 2008, it’s plain to see where Withers’ key strengths lie.  With a long history of advising some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, Withers counts nearly a quarter of The Sunday Times Rich List among its regular clients.  The firm also advises a number of businesses and charities, including Cancer Research UK, British Red Cross Society, The Tate Gallery and Vivienne Westwood.

Protecting the poor as well as the wealthy

Today’s Withers began life in 1896, when John Withers founded a partnership in London with his brother, calling it Withers & Withers.  By the 1920s, the firm had grown into one of the largest practices in London and its founder had been both knighted and named a Member of Parliament.  John Withers, in his role as MP, was the forerunner of the firm’s later work for charitable institutions and frequently campaigned against injustices against the less fortunate.  His campaigns for reform led to the passing of the Poor Prisoners’ Defence Act in 1930 and a 1938 law that protected the financial assets of wives and children affected by divorce.

On the other side of the Atlantic in the 1960s, Stanley Bergman founded a tax practice in New Haven, Connecticut.  In 2002, Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds and Withers came together to create the first international law firm focused on wealthy individuals, their businesses, families and philanthropic endeavours.  Offices opened in 2005 in Geneva, home to a third of the world’s private wealth, and in 2006 in Greenwich, Connecticut, to cater to the region’s expanding financial services community.  In 2008, the firm opened an office in Hong Kong in response to the region’s growing business and personal wealth.  Most recently, in March 2009, the firm announced that it would launch an office in the British Virgin Islands to handle the increasing amount of global litigation with offshore aspects.

Today the firm known as Withers Bergman LLP in the US and Withers LLP in Europe ranks 31st in Legal Week’s list of the UK’s top 50 law firms by revenue.  Withers was also the first major UK law firm to convert to limited liability partnership status in 2004.

All-around advice

A large number of famous names rest on Withers’ private client roster, including the Duke of Marlborough, designers Gianfranco Ferré and John Galliano, and celebrities like Jade Jagger and Lulu Guinness.  In addition to its renowned private client practice, which stands as one of the largest in the world, Withers is strong in family and corporate law, litigation, charities and property matters.  Its private clients can reap the benefit of over 120 tax and trust specialists the firm employs in the UK, together with bespoke teams for a range of different client types, from entrepreneurs to landed estates.  In family matters the firm has significant clout and is well known for its international work.  Withers, for example, represented insurance magnate John Charman in the landmark £48 million divorce settlement.

In corporate matters, Withers advises on corporate finance, intellectual property and banking and employment in particular, and boasts specific expertise in the motor racing, technology and media sectors.  In litigation, the firm is rare in its operation of a specialist trusts and probate practice, and had a solid reputation for its work on fraud and insolvency matters.  Withers’ property strength stands out particularly in relation to international property transactions and agricultural law.  Withers Bergman recently advised UK client Soho House in its bid to purchase and redevelop the Sovereign Hotel in Miami Beach, which is set to reopen in 2010 as “Soho House Beach Houseâ€.

Strength in numbers

Withers has a reputation for retaining talent, and one third of its current partners trained at the firm.  But that doesn’t mean the firm isn’t subject to the occasional raid.  In late 2007, Mayfair firm Forsters poached two partners.  When Forsters, which is actively expanding its private client practice, recruited four partners more in early 2008, Withers fought back, threatening legal action to enforce its partnership agreement. Nevertheless, by April 2009, two of the four partners had moved to Forsters, with the other two slated to join them in June.  Withers also lost a family law partner to litigation boutique Stewarts Law in March 2009.

On the plus side, Withers reinforced its contentious trusts and succession group when it brought cross-jurisdictional trust disputes expert Ziva Robertson on board from Mourant du Feu & Jeune in January 2009.  That same month, the firm also added a senior associate to its US tax team in Geneva; Milan Patel joined from Baker & McKenzie’s Zurich office.   Withers also continued its strategy of global growth with the opening of its newest office in the BVI in spring 2009.
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Withers LLP


16 Old Bailey
London EC4M 7EG
Phone: (0)20 7597 6000
www.withersworldwide.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman: Anthony Indaimo
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 299

Major Office Locations

  • Tortola, British Virgin Islands
  • New Haven, CT
  • Greenwich, CT
  • New York, NY
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Milan, Italy
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