The Lawyer UK 200 Rank39

In July 2017 BLM (previously known as Berrymans Lace Mawer) named Vivienne Williams, the head of the firm’s claims solutions business stream, as its new managing partner following the sudden retirement of Gary Allison just eight months into his three-year tenure for personal reasons. Williams took charge of a firm undergoing a strategic review across its offices after already cutting 15 per cent of its direct support staff and reducing headcount in Leeds by more than half. BLM is primarily

In July 2017 BLM (previously known as Berrymans Lace Mawer) named Vivienne Williams, the head of the firm’s claims solutions business stream, as its new managing partner following the sudden retirement of Gary Allison just eight months into his three-year tenure for personal reasons.

Williams took charge of a firm undergoing a strategic review across its offices after already cutting 15 per cent of its direct support staff and reducing headcount in Leeds by more than half.

BLM is primarily known for defendant personal injury and insurance litigation-related work. Senior partner Mike Brown, who has been in the role since April 2012, says that following extensive customer insight research two years ago BLM had committed to a complete business improvement programme focused on how the firm goes to market. This, Brown adds, was aimed at making sure the firm is “selling to its customers services that they want to buy”.

Brown concedes that the changes, which include moving offices in London, going paperlight and entirely open-plan had had an impact on the firm’s financial performance in recent years.

BLM also hired a director of business improvement, Adrian Spencer, from insurer Zurich in a new role created around a year ago as well as a new BD director, Nicola Lynch, who has worked in numerous professional services, including legacy Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and EY. Both sit on the operations board which is overseen by managing partner Williams.

The strategy the board is putting into place has four pillars: profitable growth; customer-centricity; operational excellence; and people and culture. All have equal priority, Brown says.

Total headcount at BLM stood at 1,546 in 2016/17 including 884 fee-earners, 571 qualified lawyers, 192 partners and 56 full equity partners (of whom 18, or 32 per cent, are female).

BLM has a particularly large secretarial and document production team of 363 staff, although this is 11 lower than in 2015/16. In June 2017 BLM launched a redundancy

consultation focused on up to 50 secretarial roles. Voluntary redundancy was offered to some 330 employees. The firm launched another redundancy programme in Leeds during the financial year aimed at cutting 21 lawyer and staff roles, shrinking office headcount to just 19.

BLM’s London office was the model for its move to open-plan working. In London the firm has reduced its space from around 50,000sq ft to 30,000sq ft, reduced desk space from a headcount of 350 to 270 and created a flexible environment to allow staff to work in a more agile way.

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at BLM?

1st year trainee (London): £31,000

2nd year trainee (London): £32,000

1st year trainee (National): £22,000

2nd year trainee (National): £23,000

What is the NQ salary at BLM?

NQ solicitor (London): £44,000

NQ solicitor (National): £31,000