Dickinson Dees and Bond Pearce in talks to create £92m firm

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  • Oh dear. Announcing merger talks before even looking at the books. It's pretty clear that desperation is driving this process for both parties.

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  • The disco is about to shut and desperation is in the air.

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  • @Anonymous | 12-Sep-2012 11:43 am

    Announcing that merger talks are taking place can be a smart move if the news looked likely to leak. Better to control the story than allow rumours in the press. This is a nice, clear joint statement that will help the talks.

    And the comment about 'desperation' is pointlessly negative and frankly just Troll nonsense. The merger looks sensible and will probably give the combined groups of partners a lot better platform to market from.

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  • I think this is fab news. Both firms need this to move forward.

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  • It is no problem for PR Guru to refer to my comment as being troll nonsense as I am not sensitive.

    To describe oneself as 'Guru' smacks of pretentiousness.

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  • Interesting move to announce first - good point about message control.

    It hardly looks like a desperation move - they look like a perfect match (statistically) and neither firm is in trouble - if anything, they have both shown modest improvements in the last year. This should be exciting for their clients.

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  • So Dickinson Dees's PR team have spung into action. Is anyone fooled by anon@2.02pm saying "this will be exciting for clients"?

    No. This is yet another media fail (like Dickinson Dees's recent attempt to turn Wikipedia into an advertising hoarding, as reported by pther parts of the legal press).

    This merger really reaks of desperation. Two minor firms who are similarly disappointing in terms of performance in offices at different ends of the country. As for their PR Dept labelling people who have a view as "trolls", this is one example of why the firm has become so unpopular in recent years (despite the sterling efforts of Blair & Marshall to stop the rot).

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  • @Anonymous | 12-Sep-2012 3:24 pm

    Personally, I don't work at either firm, nor advise them. It just seems like there is an awful lot of hostility out there for what seems like a positive story. Perhaps there is a cause for this, or perhaps trolls just like being trolls.

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  • The bouncer is standing by the lights. The DJ has started playing "Come on Eileen". Everyone on the dancefloor has coupled up, apart from two awkward souls. One is sporting a big red slap mark on their face (dispensed by an earlier ill fated flirtation with a Scottish lady). Their eyes meet. They simultaneously whisper to themselves "you'll have to do"...

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  • Take two firms who have been falling down the rankings for years, don't resolve their inherent problems and then hastily merge them together. What could possibly go wrong?

    Perhaps they could tempt former Dickie Dees "captain" John Flynn back to lead "Bond Dees LLP"?

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  • Good on them.

    Why should it only be successful firms that get to merge?

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  • These firms should keep in mind that a Matt Le Tissier plus a Paul Gascoigne does not a Messi make.

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  • It is bizarre that this has become public before any meaningful due diligence has been conducted. Is neither firm capable of drafting an effective confidentiality agreement? Can't their partners be trusted with commercially sensitive information without blurting it out?

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  • @Anonymous 12 Sep - 2012 4:47pm

    Yours is the most interesting point so far. It is bizarre how it seems many firms accept that they just can't keep these things quiet. I seem to remember that when Coward Chance hooked up with Clifford-Turner all those years ago they cooked up some story about the senior partner's secretary being on compassionate leave so she could work full-time on the merger without others in the office suspecting anything. That shows the lengths they went to in those days to keep things under wraps.

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  • Anon & Dayglo Dave,

    Presumably most firms keep talks quiet because if either firm leaves talks after this announcement, the assumption will be it is because the other has financial problems.

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  • The Golden Turd Award from RollonFriday as noted on DD's Wikipedia entry must surely have been a deal clincher for Bond Pearce. Quality outfit!

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  • It is clear what will happen after this merger. REDUNDANCIES!!!!!! Support staff beware. Dickinson Pearce will not need two HR departments, two IT departments, two finance departments and two marketing departments etc etc. They may even cull wayward senior staff such as directors. The only people who will benefit from this merger, as always, will be the partners.

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  • What a shabby outfit. Their reputation for bad mouthing their own people should be enough to send any self respecting merger partner running for cover!

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  • I can't see the business case, other than shedding support staff.

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  • With such pithy statements from both managing partners, they should get on like a house on fire. They must have been watching re-runs of Yes Minister.

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  • Dickinson Dees could post significant profits and the commentators would still criticise them. I swear some people sit at their desk at 10am, waiting to seek something in the legal media to critique like they're Paxman. Either that, or they don't have a desk at all. How about it getting out, DD confirming the talks to limit the roumers, then let them get on with it and see how it goes rather than doing the number crunching in your head and concluding nothing.

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  • @12.59pm:

    Roumers?

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  • So now even mild criticism of Dickinson Dees provokes paranoid rants about trolls and conspiracy theories, as well as boasts about owning a desk. Oh dear.

    I like Dickinson Dees. They've got some great staff. However they urgently need a reality check. As the 59th biggest firm in the UK they look like a joke when they pompously brand themselves as "leading law firm, Dickinson Dees". Contrary to their delusions, they're not particularly liked in the North East and their track record towards junior staff is woeful.

    For this reason I think a Bond Pearce merger is a masterstroke. Culturally Bond Pearce is like Dickinson Dees would have been if they had been able to maintain the same quality of partners that they had in the 1980s and 1990s. So, make use of this. Put Bond Pearce partners in the important decision making positions, promote the talents middle order lawyers at DD (whose way has been blocked by under-performing partners for years) and start afresh with a new name / brand.

    It'll be tough for some, but I think these changes will be good.

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  • Le Tissier + Gazza v Messi......which would you choose if you could have 2 or 1. I would go for MLT + Gazza all day long.

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  • I agree with most comments. I think DD has been struggling to meet its own expectations and the brand it upholds (2.09 "Leading law firm"). Nevertheless merging with Bond Pearce appears, on the face of it, to be a fitting match to try an inject (and shuffle) some adrenaline into the firm. Tough times ahead over the next 6-12 months if it goes ahead, but agree with the above - these necessary changes have the potential to really boost the firm.

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  • If I was in a support department at either firm I'd be bricking it...end of. Not sure why so many people on here want to slate Dickies though...maybe they turned them down for a training contract and it still stings? All this 'unsuccessful law firm' business is hilarious. Unsuccessful by whose standards? Certainly not the UK economy's. Lawyers...they really should get out more.

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  • If I were Bond Pearce, I'd cherry pick the profitable, well run Leeds office and leave the rest of this shoddy, unpopular firm.

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  • Im proud of DD and what it has achieved. It’s a great place to work . Lets be positive & excited about this news! Those who spout all the negativity need to get a life and concentrate on their own workplace instead of trying to drag a good firm down…and if they still work at DD…leave! Then they’ll realise the grass certainly isn’t greener!!

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  • Anon 10.29,

    I left. Honestly the grass is way greener than at Dickie Dees.

    I discovered that going to work can actually be fun.

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  • I left DD. My only regret is that I didn't leave earlier.

    The firm really needs to listen. They need to tackle a small minority of partners / associates who bad-mouth any staff who have the temerity to leave.

    This is the major reason why I would be loathe to instruct Dickinson Dees in my new job. Likewise, it's why I think so many people are willing to air their dislike of the firm.

    PS. I can assure you that the grass is greener. Much greener.

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  • if the grass is so much greener why are you still so interested in DD....get over it...move on...

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  • I have worked at Dickinson Dees for 12 years. In fact this is a second career for me having worked in fund management and the financial services - a very tough working environment which focuses on results and the "bottom line". However, it is not a "bitchy" industry. There are a number of comments on this blog which are really "catty" - is it so impossible to post constructive professional comments?

    One of the things that impresses me about Dickinson Dees (amongst others) is the leadership of the firm to be found in John Marshall and Jonathan Blair. On a personal level they have genuine integrity and are extremely approachable and personable. On a commerial level they have strong business acumen, i.e. in a fast consolidating market they have a great sense of direction and focus.

    The proposed merger opens up so many future business possibilties for both firms. I and many others at Dickinson Dees feel very positive about it. My view is not untypical of the majority of people working at Dickinson Dees.

    For those who have left Dickinson Dees and have found the grass to be greener, then I am very happy for you and wish you all the luck in the world but the grass on this side of the fence is not just green it is very verdent!

    For the avoidance of any doubt I don't work in the PR/Marketing team. I am a fee earner who enjoys working in a firm which has direction and wants to genuinely engage with its employees.

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  • Glad to hear the grass is now verdant! When I left it was mottled brown.

    Can I offer a measured counter-point about staff being excited. I had lunch on the Quayside a couple of hours ago and the Dickie Dees staff talking on the table next to us were saying they were disappointed to be linked to such an anonymous firm. Perhaps that isn't representative, but that was also my first thought when I heard.

    It always amuses me how many comments any article on Dickie Dees creates. They seem to polarise opinion. They're certainly not anonymous!

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  • @Anonymous 2.35pm:-

    Presumably you mean 'verdant'?

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  • WOW! There certainly is a lot of bitterness about Dickinson Dees. I left Dickinson Dees a few years ago for a local competitor. That said I would have to say that I really enjoyed my time at Dickinson Dees. They are a genuine employee focused employer. They have a unique ability to identify employees' strengths and encourage and support individual growth. You are not simply a number!

    On the bigger picture they have a strong management team supported at all levels, thus ensuring a balanced approach to any matter. This approach is borne out by the clear symmetry between the two firms in the proposed merger. A clear strategy would appear to have been adopted which will help both firms merge seamlessly whilst allowing a streamlined approach to the legal market post merger. I am sure they will be successful and I wish them well in the future.

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  • This amazing merger will create one of the world's leading law firms. The calibre of BPD's lawyers will astound even the most cynical observer and cement a legal dynasty that will last 10,000 years. Emperors Tettmar and Blair shall unite earth's disparate communities and, after the people clamour for it to be so, time shall henceforth be spoken of in terms of pre-BPD and post-BPD. In this utopia, only the marketing teams shall be permitted to give views on legal news and all staff shall celebrate that the concept of being promotion to partner was expunged from all records / language from November 2012 onwards. Hail BPD.

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  • 4/10 for strategy and ambition. Both firms should have lined up a better merger partner last year. Neither firm is terrible nor is the merger, but they're at different ends of the country. A tie up with a Shoosmiths, Cobbetts or even Eversheds would have been better. Hopefully it'll work though.

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  • I have no reason to like Dickie Dees, but I would like to champion the work of Jonathan Blair and John Marshall.

    They took office in my final months at the firm and were a breath of fresh air. Although they have different styles, both are very impressive.

    The last few years have seen steady progress from Dickie Dees. I suspect that this management team have had to correct a lot of long-standing problems. Having put this groundwork in, it appears to me that Dickie Dees are now in a position to push forward up the rankings.

    I suspect that Bristol is in the lead to become the HQ of the new firm. However I hope that Bond Pearce recognise the contribution that these two can make in the future and retain them in important roles.

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  • A lot of negative comments on this one. Honestly, I do think it could work. Firms need bench strength in key areas, and a merger of the two may provide it.

    I know a few people at Bond Pearce in junior roles fed up with the office politics (favouritism and lack of meritocracy being frequent, albeit unoriginal, complaints). Marshall and Blair seem quite highly thought of and it will be interesting to see if they can change this.

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  • Blair and Marshall are lovely fellows. However they seem powerless to resolve the favourtism and lack of meritocracy that plagues Dickie Dees. If that's also a problem at Bond Pearce, I can't see this ending well. Sorry. I just can't.

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  • The Roll on Friday national staff survey (in which Dickie Dees came last) highlighted both a lack of meritocracy & favouritism as problems which undermine Dickie Dees. To hear that Bond Pearce also suffers these problems should set off alarm bells.

    I'm sure all the managing partners are terrific. However it looks like both firms have far too many partners who are just coasting along. Someone has to clear them out for this new firm to really progress up the rankings. PEP of £225k will look pathetic in comparison with other top 40 firms. I can't see the clear out happening though: turkeys won't vote for Christmas.

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  • I have no idea whether it is the case or not, but it would be nice to think that there might be a group of people who think that they would like to be a national firm of good reputation, earn the not inconsiderable sum of £225k a year, and go home at 5 most days and not work every weekend. Perhaps it isn't the case here, but I have never understood why it is a good thing to sell your soul to the firm for £1m a year, when you could have a life and live it very nicely indeed on half a million a year (or £225k).

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  • Anon 1.12pm,

    I think there are plenty of people who are happy doing that. However if you think these two firms are full of those kind of people, then you're sadly mistaken.

    My experience of these people has been that they talk loudly about how good they are ("leading law firm") and pretend they're the best of the best ("we can provide a service that is equal to or better than most major City of London law firms"), when they're distinctly average.

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  • Heh - told today that senior figures at Dickie Dees are telling stakeholders that this is very much "a take over".
    Very disrespectful. However I guess we'll see whether it is a take over by the name adopted (my guess BPD) by the new firm and where the HQ is located (my guess Bristol).

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  • I worked at Dickinson Dees and they were quite good at that time.

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  • I am a former Dickinson Dees partner who left of my own volition. I retain huge respect for the firm and many of its partner. Some of these posts are bizarre.
    The leadership of Dickinson Dees recognise that the current status quo is unsustainable. They have found a potential equal partner (had they chosen a larger firm they would be crticised for allowing the firm to be taken over and had they chosen a smaller firm they would have been unambitious).
    The fact both firms have ambitions to move forward with a genuine national footprint with a greater London presence appears good business logic. I am unsure what the critics want of these firms - is that they both slowly diminish in stature so they can continue to make negative posts or could it be that they are actually are with competitors who know these firms are well lead and fear that they are going to provide formidable competition. Either way if you have nothing positive to contribute perhaps you should reflect on how you are spending your time.
    Personally I wish both firms well - brave decisions are not always easy decisions and I hope time will show the critics to have been misinformed.

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  • I currently work at DD and I can confirm that the management have been at pains to inform staff of what's going on, and to confirm this is very much a merger of equals. Personally, I think it's excellent news, as the firms are good fits work-wise, financially and geographically. They have similar cultures and aims. This prevents either firm being swallowed up by some large, bland megafirm and secures jobs. As for letting the cat out of the bag early, the firms have been in talks for nearly a year - hardly a sign of rushing into a marriage of convenience!

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  • As you say the two firms have been talking for a year so it's very intriguing that in the last paragraph of the article, Jonathan Blair says the talks are at "a very early stage and due diligence has not yet begun". Also, it means that Dickinson Dees would presumably have been party to negotiations with Maclay, Murray and Spens (as they ended 6 months ago). Interesting. All the very best with the new firm. Exciting times! Now more information is in the press, I think this is a smart move in a tricky market.

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  • There's been flirting for a year, and things got more serious when the talks with MMS collapsed, mainly due to a clash of cultures. DD was also talking to other parties. Both firms have realised that organic growth is not enough. They're a good fit for each other and the merger is good news for both firms, meaning neither gets taken over on someone else's terms.

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  • Any further news on whether Bond Pearce Dickinson is going to happen?

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