Weightmans’ incoming management team has vowed to make its London office a priority as the firm refocuses for a post-Jackson world.
John Schorah and Dan Cutts, who take over from Patrick Gaul and Ian Evans as the firm’s managing and senior partners respectively this week (30 January 2013), said they want to continue the growth of the London office to expand the services offered to core insurance clients.
In recent years Weightmans has begun offering insurers and insureds a wider range of services, moving away from its historical core strength of claimant insurance work. Schorah and Cutts said they wanted to continue this process in the City, where the firm employs around 110 people.
Weightmans has also introduced a fourth business line designed to address the reforms to litigation brought in following Lord Justice Jackson’s costs report. The ‘solving disputes’ team will focus on insurance claims valued at less than £25,000, which will be funnelled through the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) claims road traffic accident (RTA) claims portal.
Partner Rob Williams, currently Weightmans’ head of costs, is becoming the head of the solving disputes team and will join the firm’s management board as a result.
Schorah said staff had been consulted over the changes as some will find their roles changing due to the introduction of the fourth business line and the Jackson reforms, but nobody had been made redundant.
There is expected to be a crossover in work between the firm’s four business lines, which now comprise public sector, commercial and insurance as well as the solving disputes team.
Meanwhile the firm is awaiting the outcome of its application for an ABS licence. Weightmans is not planning external investment, but wants to be able to appoint non-lawyers as partners.
It has also advertised for a non-executive director to sit on the board. Schorah said: “The non-executive will help bring the board to task and make sure we deliver.”
Partners Tim Lang and Kieran Jones will also join the board, replacing Schorah and Cutts as head of commercial and insurance respectively. Lang was previously employment head.
Weightmans has grown considerably in recent years under Gaul’s management. Its half-year results for the 2012/13 financial year were up 9 per cent (13 November 2012) and the firm recently took on a team from collapsed Scottish firm Semple Fraser (11 March 2013).
The new management team said they would continue to look out for further growth opportunities, but did not want to expand further simply for the sake of size.
“We want to grow, but there’d have to be nailed-on reasons for doing it,” Schorah said.