MAB shuts its doors as corporate and property teams join Veale Wasbrough Vizards

Matthew Arnold & Baldwin (MAB) is closing its doors following a string of partner exits over the last two weeks, The Lawyer can reveal.

The final exits announced today (12 January) see Veale Wasbrough Vizards (VWV) pick up 30 lawyers from the Watford-based firm. The lawyers joining VWV are from MAB’s corporate and commercial property practices, will continue to be based in Watford and will operate under the VWV brand.

A MAB spokesperson told The Lawyer: “As of 31 January Matthew Arnold & Baldwin will cease to provide legal services. The full legal function has been acquired.”

VWV managing partner Simon Heald said that the acquisition would complement the firm’s existing business and increase the range of legal services it is able to offer within the Watford area.

Earlier today Hill Dickinson announced it had acquired MAB’s commercial and wealth management practices including equity partners Iain Donaldson and Mark Weston.

The largest acquisition of an MAB team occurred last week when Dentons sealed a deal to hire the firm’s banking and finance litigation team. The team consisted of 11 partners and an additional 64 fee-earners.

Market sources had previously suggested that Dentons was looking to merge with MAB but by October the talks had narrowed to include only the banking and finance team.

MAB head of corporate Richard Phillips, who is set to join VWV, said that the firm had spoken to a number of firms and had discussed the possibility of a full merger.

Phillips said: “We are always thinking about how our business can grow and what it needs, but ultimately we came to that decision last year that it needed to be in a bigger environment to give us more strength and depth which then would enable us to better service our clients.

“You could try and shoehorn a particular part of a business into a particular firm but it that didn’t naturally fit then in six or nine months time you will end up with people who don’t fit.”

According to The Lawyer’s UK 200: The independents report, MAB saw revenue fall 12 per cent during the 2014/15 financial year, from £19.1m to £16.8m. Net profit also decreased from £5m to £3.3m. The majority of MAB’s revenue was generated by its litigation and arbitration practice, which accounted for 55 per cent (£9.25m) of turnover.

MAB’s clients included: Barclays Bank, BBC, Computacenter, Groupon, Sigma Pharmaceuticals, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.