Highly secretive private equity boutique Dickson Minto is set to become a limited-liability partnership (LLP) in a move that will surprise many City lawyers because of the financial transparency required for the conversion.
In order to satisfy regulatory requirements, the firm will first be split into two parallel partnerships in England and Scotland.
The details have yet to be ironed out, but The Lawyer understands that areas regulated by the Scottish Law Society will be handled by a separate Scottish partnership. Such work is likely to be of low value and might include, for example, corporate support property work.
When the firm publishes its first accounts, the legendary high earnings of name partners Alastair Dickson and Bruce Minto will be beyond dispute.
Dickson’s finances were put in the limelight last year, when he was forced to pay out a £6m divorce settlement – the largest in Scottish legal history.
The conversion to an LLP is often thought to be a precursor to a US merger, and Dickson Minto has no shortage of US white shoe suitors. However, sources at the firm say the partnership has cooled on a US takeover and would only feel the need to move if Slaughter and May abandoned its unilateralist strategy.
Dickson Minto’s move comes as larger firms with international offices drag their feet over tax issues. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw specialist Richard Linsell said: “Outside the legal sector, you’re getting a top-down process, but in the legal profession it’s going on the other way around.”