Regional Focus: Bristol
15 March 2007
Bristol-based Clarke Willmott has dominated South West legal news in recent months, winning and losing top talent and announcing aggressive expansion plans.
Finalising its strategy review at its partnership conference last October, the firm declared its intention to launch an office in the North and to ramp up its Birmingham operation.
Firmwide turnover: 98m
Total partners: 145
Total lawyers: 576
Bristol trainees: 24
Firmwide turnover: 40m
Total partners: 65
Total lawyers: 237
Bristol trainees: 19
Firmwide turnover: 41.1m
Total partners: 68
Total lawyers: 241
Bristol trainees: 11
Firmwide turnover: 54.2m
Total partners: 61
Total lawyers: 214
Bristol trainees: 39
Firmwide turnover: 74.1m
Total partners: 98
Total lawyers: 314
Bristol trainees: 21
Managing partner David Sedgwick has not revealed where the new northern office might be, but told The Lawyer (10 October 2006) that any potential merger partner would be chosen on the basis of cultural fit, not location.
The firm is also looking to build on its strengths in retail and real estate and will expand both the banking and finance and corporate teams in Birmingham.
The plans are a display of confidence at the firm, despite two major raids on the property team by local rival Osborne Clarke. Osborne Clarke bagged a three-partner, one-assistant residential property team that included star partner David Powell, before returning exactly a week later to bag head of strategic land development Elizabeth Sturgess.
Sturgesss hire closed the coffin on Osborne Clarkes declared but unlikely intention to strike a deal with Clark Willmott to reduce the six-month period of gardening leave on the departed residential property team.
The departures are a setback to Clarke Willmotts real estate ambitions and follow a sustained period of expansion of the property team, which accounts for 14 of the firms total 25 lateral hires in the past three years, plus two of its promotions to the partnership.
Law Firm: Burges Salmon
Seat: Commercial Disputes and Construction (CDC)
Why did you choose to join Burges Salmon?
I spent two weeks in the firm on a vacation scheme and really enjoyed myself. I was left with the impression that it was a very friendly firm that really cared about its people. It has a large number of high-profile clients, but it was also important for me to work for a firm where the emphasis isnt just on work.
Whats the toughest thing about your job?
Ensuring Im always accounting for my time.
What does your typical day involve?
I dont really have a typical day. My current seat is in
the IP unit of our CDC department, but I also get general commercial work, so theres a lot of variety in my day. My work so far has included drafting letters of advice, sitting in on meetings with clients and helping to prepare a settlement agreement. Ive also been given the task of compiling research on Harry Potter and the numerous trademarks created to protect his name.
Whats the most exciting deal/case youve worked
on and why?
Our client, a producer of a popular brand of outdoor clothing, felt its trademark was being infringed. In order to establish this it was necessary to gather proof of infringement. With this in mind I was sent on a shopping trip to buy some offending items. I was advised to go undercover and on no account look like a lawyer. Although I came back empty-handed, I think I pulled off the not looking like a lawyer part.
What time do you usually leave the office?
Around sixish, although sometimes I do have to stay later.
Whats the best thing about working in Bristol?
Its a really vibrant city that has a lot of the benefits of London, but without the hassle. I love that I can be out of the office and home within 15 minutes.
Whats your favourite pub/bar in the city?
The Clifton in Clifton.
How much does a pint of beer cost in Bristol?
Around 2.80, although you can always hit the student bars for cheaper drinks.
Who would you like to go on a dinner date with and why?
Angelina Jolie. Do I really need to explain why?