Camerons takes in-house team from property client

CMS Cameron McKenna is taking on a property company’s in-house legal department and picking up all its commercial real estate work.

Michael Leighton, head of the in-house legal team at the property division of FTSE 100 company Taylor Woodrow, is joining Camerons with solicitor Mona Flahive and two other staff.

The team will become part of the firm’s 24-lawyer property department which will now advise Taylor Woodrow on all commercial property matters. Camerons was a long-term legal adviser to the company.

The firm acted on £100m worth of transactions last year, but the amount is expected to increase significantly this year.

Taylor Woodrow is off-loading the legal team from its property division as part of a cost-cutting exercise to allow it to focus on building up its international business following a review earlier this year.

The company has home-building interests in Australia, Canada, Spain, the UK and the US. Taylor Woodrow’s property development and investment division includes industrial and retail centres in Canada.

But one source says of the restructuring: “It is a bit of an unusual move as many companies look to reduce cost by retaining a small in-house team and then outsource work to retain flexibility.”

Camerons has been seeking a US partner to move business away from the less profitable eastern European market to the US and Canada, where the margins are considerably higher.

The transfer of the in-house team could provide Camerons with entry into other markets, especially if the Taylor Woodrow connection helps it secure more profitable interests in the US and Canada.

Camerons property partner Mark Heighton adds: “We have had a strong link with Taylor Woodrow and this will consolidate and strengthen our relationship with the team.”