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August saw the launch of Last Cawthra Feather’s (LCF) sports law team, an unconventional development for a regional firm made all the more unusual by the presence of former professional footballers-turned-consultants Jim Pearson and John Hendrie.
The department, headed by Steven Lownsbrough, will handle national and international sports professionals and organisations. Pearson and Hendrie will lend their experience of the game and as mediators on the FA’s Sports Dispute Resolution panel.
“We wanted to open up some different avenues to market our services,” explains Yorkshire born-and-bred managing partner Simon Stell. “Sports law seemed to be an area where we could reach a broader client base.”
The firm was born in its current form in 1988, as the brainchild of two Hammond Suddards (now Hammonds) partners. Operating as a high street practice until the mid-1990s, the outfit soon realised it was missing opportunities to develop a commercial arm and began to reorganise its approach.
Stell came on board to help develop the fledgling firm in 1996, and in 1997 he took the reins as the inaugural managing partner.
“Refocus and reorganisation were my mains goals from the outset,” says Stell.
After hiring Susan Ward from the Leeds office of Ford & Warren as his new head of corporate, Stell plunged into a merger with Bradford property and litigation specialists Last & Company in 1999, and LCF was born.
The firm is headquartered in Bradford, with two other offices in Shipley and Ilkley.
“We have no immediate plans to set up in Leeds,” says Stell. “I think we’re more visible by being outside the city.”
He is not averse, however, to hiring rising stars from regional rivals, including the 2002 capture of Gordons’ Paul Birkenshaw to head the litigation team.
Alliances are beginning to take shape further afield too, particularly with Madrid outfit Scudamore Abogados, led by ex-Baker & McKenzie man Jeremy Scudamore.
The firm is making progress at strengthening its image in Bradford, not least by lending support to the British Urban Regeneration Association’s projects in the city. Senior partner Jonathan Wright will address 150 delegates at the organisation’s ‘Freedom to Regenerate’ conference in Bradford this week.
“We have a strong base in Bradford and encouraging the continued growth of the city is something we strongly pursue,” says Stell.
Stell may be happy in Bradford, but with the firm now boasting clients including FTSE250-listed financial services company Provident Financial, and with the burgeoning sports law team on side, LCF has ambitions to become a serious regional player.
Last Cawthra Feather
Total number of partners
Total number of lawyers
Main practice areas
Company commercial, litigation, private client, real estate and sports
Provident Financial, Stan James Leisure and Yorkshire Building Society