Three years ago West Midlands firm George Green instigated a refocusing of its strategy. It was an initiative that managing partner Richard Cliff describes as the start of “a concentration on corporate and commercial” to drive the firm forward.
The shake-up resulted in the departure of several partners and, in effect, the replacement of the old guard.
Since then, the firm has embarked on a campaign of focused lateral hires from the local branches of Pinsent Masons, Eversheds and Weightmans to appoint new heads of employment and litigation. It has also made a string of internal promotions.
As a result, Cliff claims George Green is now “known as a real alternative to the major Birmingham firms”, and pits itself against the likes of mid-sized corporate and commercial firms in the City such as Cobbetts and HBJ Gateley Wareing.
Although he acknowledges the firm has a way to go before it achieves the same level of profile, he says it is making fast progress. In particular, Cliff cites George Green’s success in winning places on the regional panels of major clients, including the Co-operative Bank, HBOS and the Yorkshire Bank.
“High quality comes from having the best and the most enthusiastic lawyers around,” Cliff says.
Cliff himself has climbed the ranks at George Green, having joined from Wragge & Co’s corporate team in the 1970s. Other than two years at Wragges and a training contract in Wolverhampton, he has spent his entire career at the 109-year-old firm.
George Green is continuing to build strength in numbers with hires including dispute resolution associate Neil Williams from Pinsents earlier this year and employment solicitor Tim Lang from Weightmans. Pat Moore, the former senior partner of the West Midlands office of accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward, was also recently appointed as a part-time strategic director.
To boost the firm’s offering to international clients, George Green is a member of Europe-wide law firm network Ars Legis. Cliff explains: “Clients are doing more cross-border work than they ever have, and we can now put clients in touch with good quality lawyers in most of Europe.”
Recognising the need for a raised profile, Cliff’s other goal for George Green is to “become even more well-known than we are at present for what we are doing”.
This campaign has already been assisted by corporate partner Paul Bennett’s naming in June as top young lawyer in the legal section of the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year awards, organised by an arm of city lobby organisation Birmingham Forward.
Total number of partners: 10
Total number of lawyers: 40
Main practice areas: Corporate and commercial, commercial property, dispute resolution, employment, private client
Key clients: Claire’s Accessories, Co-operative Bank, HBOS, Port Vale Football Club, Yorkshire Bank
Number of offices: Two
Location: Cradley Heath, Halesowen