Categories:North West

Halliwells’ ex-managing partner: ‘I gave my life to that practice’

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  • Nothing at all to do with not being able to fill your pockets fast enought then?

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  • If the writing was on the wall in December 2009 how does he explain recruitment and promotion of partners up to June 2010?

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  • With all due respect, Austin’s commitment demonstrably fell way short of the mark: if what he says is true, he demonstrably lacks ability rather than application (an “A” for effort; an “F” for achievement). I wouldn’t hire him.

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  • Why is this man trying to defend his actions when , indirectly or directly , he has had a part in seriously damaging the welfare of hundreds of innocent staff and a good number of innocent creditors too

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  • This is a pathetic response… I would have expected the powers that be at this publication to at least try and give him half a grilling, rather than a just a free platform to peddle this drivel.

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  • Nice to see that Ian Austin has retained the same capacity for denial having left Halliwells as he had when he was the managing partner of the firm. Crass mismanagement combined with hubris and naked greed led to the downfall of the firm - and all of these characteristics flourished under the leadership of Ian Austin.

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  • The arrogance of this guy is unreal.

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  • Good to see the Lawyer really cross-questioning him hard on these issues.

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  • I think you'll find that these are responses to the sort of tough questions that journalists, bloggers and commentators have been asking of Austin ever since the ship went down.
    The answers he gives are there to be interpreted by the reader as he or she chooses. It's not the job of a reporter on a news story such as this to guide opinion one way or the other. This magazine, and others, have offered plenty of opinions over the last few weeks on what happened at Halliwells.
    Has no one heard of right to reply?

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  • Are you Tony Hayward in disguise?

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  • Speaking of right of reply, it's a shame the hundreds of staff who got shafted by Austin's intransigence don't enjoy a similar priviledge isn't it?

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  • When poor Ian Austin is complaining about putting in £700k is this before or after he took his share of the reverse premium? Is it reasonable to suspect that this has been forgotten and he had actually only put in what used to amount something about equal to or less than his income for a single year?

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  • You've got to admire Ian Austin's front at least - he's the captain of the ship when it hit the icerberg and sank but claims he isn't to blame. Fantastic stuff.

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  • A Fred Goodwin for the legal profession . . . . .

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  • This man has no self awareness at all. He is now at some tiny firm in Manchester and still he is spinning it like he is still in Spinningfields.
    Not all the partners took the reverse premium. Ian elected not to tell the FSM`s despite them being small stake holders. That represents bad faith.
    Taking the reverse premium in the most tax efficient way is utter rubbish. Ian and his cronies took the money from the Landlord and distributed it as profit. That act was not in the best interests of the firm.

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  • The LLP was put into his hands and his greed and ineptitude resulted in him leading the mad £17m reverse premium dash and in a few short years he brought the firm to its knees.
    He may have lost 700k but he took close to £1M out in the reverse premium oh and don`t forget that 75k your trousered as a bonus for doing such a good deal with the Landlord. Clown

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  • The administrators report shows that the firm made a loss of 1.8M in fy April 09. So Ian why were you going around telling evrybody the firm was in great shape? You forced many of us to put money in and you failed to divulge that the firm was loss making.
    We are now left to pay our own tax because you did not put money into our tax reserve accounts as you promised. Why did you take advantage of the HMRC time to pay scheme for insolvent firms and then email us and say the firm could have paid it if it had wanted to. This is an integrity issue because you either lied to us or you lied to HMRC. I hope the SRA investigates and strikes you off

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  • Addleshaws saw the recession coming and built up a war chest. Every business commentator knew what was coming. Austin thought he knew best (or didn`t care) and took 17M out of the firm. Tells you all you need to know, the guy is a fool as are those who blindly followed him down the dark road into administration

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  • Get back under your rock you shameless creature. You now work for a little league firm and we hope that we will never hear from you again. Go with a semblance of grace and keep your trap shut

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  • He sounds exactly like Gordon Brown.

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  • Demonstrably a bear with very little brain...
    Why did no one seek to gag this one when they finally showed him the door?

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  • interesting - young Austin doesn't feature on Heaton's web site at all.
    "Are you in there Austin!"

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  • Impressive intellect, tact and timing are three qualities that I have always associated with Ian Austin. Look forward to seeing more of his media offensive over the next few weeks.

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  • GENERIC AND HIGHLY TEDIOUS RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEE.

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  • I was upstairs the other week in the cafe, I purchased a boost and with my first bite a filling fell out causing a shooting pain into the upper part of my mouth - I let out an almighty yelp. Mr Austin was stood on the other side of the room and he didn't even bat an eye lid. Some people.

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  • Ian Austin's attitude seems closer to Dick Fuld (post Lehman collapse) - still in denial. Yet he bagged himself a new job. I am surprised that anyone offered him a new position and one with management responsibility. No one in the world will employ Fuld ever again...

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  • What a Joker.....!

    "Downfall related to the downturn"

    Northern Rock imploded in 2007, the world was entering mass turmoil and "the board", in 2008, thought that it was the right time to take £15 million out of the business.

    Given the fact that fee income dropped by around £20m over the previous years it would have been nice to have that £15m as a capital cushion to see the firm through the recession.

    You say you put in £700,000 of your own money, how much did you take out of the business in your time there?

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  • I could have been a contender for managing partner of the decade if it wasn`t for;

    1. That pesky recession
    2. The pesky temptation of £17m
    3. Pesky and disloyal partners
    4. Failing to tie the pesky ones in
    5. The pesky Sheffield office
    6. That pesky straw which broke the camel`s back
    7. My pesky socks which worked themselves off my pesky feet.

    Poor, poor me it is all so unfair, boo hoo

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  • "I gave my life to that practice" lol pmsl
    That practice gave you your life and you squandered the biggest business opportunity which will ever come your way.
    Your house, your car, your friends all came from the firm that you mismanaged so badly that it went into administration.
    Stop playing the victim, show some dignity

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  • I need a warm up man who can get the crowd in the mood for a tale of greed, mismanagement and financial disaster.
    You have not lost everything old man, come and join me on the after dinner speaking circuit.
    Nick Leeson
    How I broke Bearings Bank (available for after dinner speaking but definitely not for investment advice)

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  • If you were the University of Salford, do you think you might be a little worried by this.......

    Mr Ian Austin (Chair of Audit Committee)

    Independently ranked as one of the “most dynamic figures in the North West market,” Ian Austin is a prominent player in the region. He grew up in Cheshire and has remained firmly rooted in the North West throughout his career – from completing his law degree at Chester Law School to guiding Halliwells through a series of bold initiatives that saw it become Manchester’s largest law firm. In 2004, at 42, Ian was elected managing partner and he immediately began delivering his vision of the firm, completing a comprehensive rebrand of Halliwell Landau to Halliwells LLP that same year. He also established a foothold in Liverpool through the successful merger with Cuff Roberts, followed in 2006 by joining forces with James Chapman & Co which boosted Halliwells to becoming the region’s largest law firm. Ian’s achievements and efforts didn’t go unnoticed and perhaps one of his career highlights to date was being awarded Management Partner of the Year at the 2006 Legal Business Awards. The judges described him as having “an astute hiring and merger policy and an infectious enthusiasm”. In December 2007 he welcomed the entire Manchester workforce to the impressive new Spinningfields district when Halliwells relocated to 3 Hardman Square. With Ian’s guidance Halliwells has adopted a modern corporate structure and maps out innovative career paths for its staff. Strong leadership, business focus, open communications and sound financial management are his trademarks but his achievements go far beyond the realm of business. He sits on the development committee of The Prince’s Trust and has championed a number of fundraising campaigns – so far raising £450,000 for The Prince’s Trust, Claire House Children’s Hospice and the Cavendish Centre. He was also behind the decision to sponsor two of the most exciting young athletes in the UK; Francesca Halsall and Shelly Woods. This support enabled them fly the flag for Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and both are currently busy preparing for London 2012. After recently taking up the position of Executive Chairman, Ian is responsible for running the main board and focuses his efforts on the firm’s commercial objectives and strategy. For more than five years he has guided Halliwells through a period of accelerated growth and remains committed to its success and long term future. Ian enjoys strong links with the Manchester business community and regularly speaks at conferences and events. He also comments regularly in the regional, national and trade media on business trends, leadership and the economy. Ian Austin lives with his wife and children in Ormskirk.

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  • "I'll not have anyone question that commitment." Who does he think he is?

    You would have thought that he would have been best advised to keep his head down for some time...

    As for Heatons, has anyone heard of them? Their litigation profile lists their highlights:-

    •a six figure professional negligence claim against a firm of accountants
    •a defamation case involving an international company and trade journal
    •a successful Judicial Review against a local planning authority
    •representing a company in a potential dispute worth several hundred thousand pounds involving alleged defects with a computer system
    •advising a company in a claim by a pension fund concerning its assets
    •representing a company in a prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive following a serious injury at work

    Not exactly the big league

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  • Incredible - if this was a company director he would be disqualified. The creditors of this LLP must be crying out for their money reading this! He even gives tax avoidance as a reason for taking the reverse premium out of the business.

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  • Hitting out at critics is not a particularly good look. Sure Halliwells were the victim of some unfortunate timing - expanding rapidly as the credit crunch arrived etc BUT... However anyone with an ounce of management skill and knowledge would say the demise was the result of poor planning and inexpert management execution. Clearly there was no 'wriggle room' once the solids started to hit the air conditioning. Who was it who said that to place the words oxymoron and management into a sentence is to create an oxymoron? Oh yes, it was me!

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  • If Skint Halliwells Partner's comments are correct, surely this is something for the SRA to investigate? Surely lying about such matters is professional misconduct...

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  • I personally witnessed the strategic personal targeting, derision and ultimate disposal of a number of quality Equity and salaried Partners who had the temerity to challenge Mr Austin's ineffective,over bearing and dismal 'alleged' leadership...................all those affected have risen to bigger and better things.

    Res ipsa locquitor.

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  • Um, don't we the taxpayer own 84% of RBS?
    Given the bank is due to write off £15m on its duff loan to Halliwells (clearly the perfect bank for the EpicFail law firm, given both organisations' ludicrous financial decisions...), by my calculations that means Halliwells has cost us, the taxpayer, £12.6m.
    Marvellous!

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  • So the firm had a reputation of 'eat what you kill'? Well, Mr Austin, seems you ate yourself to death through your greed and killed off the firm as a result.

    To add further insult to injury, you've negotiated a comfortable position at Heatons (does this firm not read the legal press, let alone screen prospective employees of their past experience?!)

    In an era where margins are being squeezed at the directive of client mandates, seems lawyers and partners alike are becoming ever more greedy and when poor lack of judgement is applied, people (or should I say, in this case, the little boy) cried wolf!!!

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  • Can you come an take your banners down from above the escalators in Terminal 3 please, they're gathering dust and we ain't doing it

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  • Glad to see Mr Austin is getting the support he deserves on here, I bet he is enjoying reading these goodwill messages...

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  • After presiding over the demise of a big firm in such spectacular fashion, I'd expect Mr. Austin to be in hiding somewhere, not coming out with a lot of self serving drivel as to how millions were trousered for reasons of tax effiency.

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  • Credit where credit is due. Ian Austin has at least been prepared to give some comment to the press. What has happened to that star of the legal profession Alec Craig? Would he perhaps care to give us the benefit of his wisdom on the subject of his role as senior partner?

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  • "If the writing was on the wall in December 2009 how does he explain recruitment and promotion of partners up to June 2010?"

    I assume the partners made up internally were fixed share equity partners/members. I assume lateral hires were a mixture of fixed share and equity. Fixed share equity partners/members are essentially salaried partners, but they lose employment protection as fixed shares, so can be dismissed unfairly, discriminated against, made redundant etc without redress, which can prove very useful if you think the ship might well go down, since you can limit employment claims by the longer-serving and better paid associates.

    Also, old-style partnership deeds invariably had a "good faith" clause in relation to dealings with partners, but LLP agreements often don't, so it probably isn't an SRA matter that fixed share equity partners/members weren't told about the property deal.

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  • I'd like to see panorama investigate this guy... anyone got any contacts at the BBC?

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  • Credit where credit is due !?
    By giving the defensive and combative interview that he gave, all that Austin has done is demonstrate the extent of his poor judgement and complete lack of self awareness.
    The man was at the helm of the biggest financial failure of a law firm in the UK ever and a very big reason for that failure is that Ian Austin was hopelessly in above is head. I am pleased that he has found a home at Heatons because this is the size of firm that he is suited to - just as long as they keep away from any management functions.
    By the way, I note that Ian Austin does not comment on the firm's failure to lock in partners that trousered the reverse premium or on the number of senior partners that left the firm shortly after they received the reverse premium. There are only two possible explanations for this:- either those leading the reverse premium decison making process (includes Austin and Craig) (1) deliberately wanted the option of exiting shortly after they received their ill gotten gains or (2) were too stupid to appreciate the risks of partner departures. To be frank, I am undecided which of the two options applies because both are equally feasable given the characters involved.
    Interestingly, Austin also does not dwell on the shamefull campaign that he conducted in 2008 trying to persuade (or, perhaps, some would say bully) junior fixed share partners into making capital contributions to the firm - apparantly to give those junior partenrs a greater sense of ownership of the firm. Yeah, right, ownership of a verly large terd that was the progenny of Austin and Craig! At least the management had chutpah. If I remember correctly, the rate at which junior fixed share partner capital contributions were structured made an equity point approximately 50 times more expensive in the hands of a fixed share partner as compared to an equity partner.
    What more can I say - I spent a couple of years at Halliwells and enriched my vocabulary with two words that I had never previously used:- "spivvy" and "trousered" - something for which to be grateful to Mr Austin.
    BTW, referring to an earlier posting, to call Ian Austin a clown is to do a disservice to clowns.

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  • a classic case of a firm and its constituent parts (still) believing its own hype. I am ceratin they felt untouchable. They wanted to rival the prestige of their established peers but were prepared to cut corners to get there.

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  • While Stone Cold Ian Austin seems to be taking a lot of the heat - I'd like to remind the commenting fraternity here that there were many many more greedy members of the board who were simply not very nice people, and should share the attention.
    Yes, while taking a massive reverse premium when most of the Magic / Silver circle / Big 4 accountants had a recruitment freeze in anticipation of a recession should be frowned up - pushing in front of your hard working secretaries at the coffee machine without even a "hello" is down right scummy!
    Furthermore, despite a thinking they had a rosy future ahead the dastardly villains from downtown Spinningfields seemed to be prudent enough to mug-off newly qualified trainees with appalling salaries struggling pay mortgages.
    Looking forward to next weeks episode of "It wasn't my fault either..."

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  • Austin did not give his life give his life for that practice, he bled the firm dry but his individualistic, self-serving and reckless policies.
    I am beyond appalled that another firm would make him head of a department, let alone hire him after he was responsible for the death of Halliwells.
    It just goes to show that the people at the top always come out of things unscathed while everyone else suffers both financially and emotionally.

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  • Reading Mr Austin's "last stand speech" potrays himself as a victim of the crime.
    Mr Austin, Mr Goodwin et al should be applauded for their audacity. Granted the other senior partners and management team should face the anger and despise of the professional public, but that will never happen.
    I am surprised though that the SRA or whichever organisation who is in charge of corporate governance in the legal field has not taken action against Mr Austin and his cronies for severe mismanagement. If they were directors/MPs/public figures they would have been "made to repent".
    Another question to the readers:
    "Please could you explain to me why SRA have not opened an enquiry into this horrendous affair?" Surely it would be in their interest that an investigation was undertaken so that the profession as a hold can learn from this sorry episode in the life of legal practices.

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  • Shame on on you Ian. You'll take this disaster to your grave. The biggest law firm in UK history to go under thanks to greedy partners.

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