Berwin Leighton Paisner, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and Richards Butler are gearing up to convert to limited liability partnership (LLP) status by May 2006, The Lawyer can reveal.
The three firms are part of a concerted push to LLP status as firms seek to limit exposure to major negligence claims such as Ernst & Young and Equitable Life.
Only four firms in the top 50 have said that they are not actively considering conversion at this stage – Ince & Co, Olswang, Salans and Simmons & Simmons.
Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Denton Wilde Sapte, Lovells and Norton Rose will vote on conversion in winter 2005 and early 2006, with a view to making the change in 2006 or 2007.
Ince partner David Steward said: “I think it’s, just at the moment, not on our radar.”
The Lawyer has surveyed all of the top UK 50 law firms on what their current stance is on making the change. Of the top 50, 14 firms have already converted to LLP status, with Cobbetts and Hill Dickinson ready to make the shift on 1 November.
While the date has not been definitively set, Addleshaw Goddard is also aiming for conversion on 1 May 2006. Clyde & Co is another of the 23 firms examining the possibilities of conversion.
Legal advice on conversion is often handled in-house, but Allen & Overy (A&O) – which has a well-known partnership law practice under the leadership of Richard Turnor – and Serle Court barrister John Machell have advised several firms.
In May 2004, A&O became the first large international law firm to convert to an LLP, and since then Turnor has been actively marketing his practice to other solicitors.
He said that the risk taken on by a law firm makes limiting liability the best model. However, Turnor said that tax and regulation still complicate conversion for a large international practice. “It’s like stuffing an octopus into a bucket, but it’s doable,” he said.
Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw partnership law partner Richard Linsell said LLPs will also help recruitment.
LLP status among the top 50 law firms
|Firm||Converted||Auditor||External Legal Advisors|
|Addleshaw Goddard||Reviewing the issue|
|Allen & Overy||1 May 2004||Deloitte||None|
|Ashurst||Reviewing the issue|
|Barlow Lyde & Gilbert||Reviewing the issue|
|Beachcroft Wansbroughs||Vote planned November 2005|
|Berwin Leighton Paisner||End of 2005||Deloitte||Allen & Overy and John Machell of Serle Court|
|Bird & Bird||Reviewing the issue|
|Burges Salmon||1 May 2004||Deloitte||John Machell of Serle Court|
|Charles Russell||1 May 2005||Deloitte||John Machell of Serle Court|
|Clifford Chance||Reviewing the issue|
|Clyde & Co||Intention to convert in May 2007|
|CMS Cameron McKenna||1 May 2005||Deloitte||Allen & Overy and John Machell of Serle Court|
|Cobbetts||1 November 2005||Deloitte||None|
|Denton Wilde Sapte||Vote planned winter 2005|
|DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary||1 May 2004||Pricewaterhouse-Coopers||None|
|Dundas & Wilson||1 November 2004||Deloitte||Wragge & Co|
|Eversheds||1 May 2003||Grant Thornton||None|
|Field Fisher Waterhouse||Reviewing the issue|
|Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer||Reviewing the issue|
|Halliwells||1 July 2004||Deloitte||Allen & Overy|
|Hammonds||Reviewing the issue|
|Herbert Smith||1 April 2005||Deloitte||None|
|Hill Dickinson||1 November 2005||Deloitte||Allen & Overy|
|Holman Fenwick & Willan||Reviewing the issue|
|Ince & Co||Not considering at present|
|Irwin Mitchell||Reviewing the issue|
|Lawrence Graham||1 August 2004||Smith & Williamson||John Machell of Serle Court|
|Linklaters||Reviewing the issue|
|Lovells||Vote planned January 2006|
|Macfarlanes||Reviewing the issue|
|McGrigors||Reviewing the issue|
|Nabarro Nathanson||Reviewing the issue|
|Norton Rose||Vote planned November 2005|
|Olswang||Not considering at present|
|Osborne Clarke||Reviewing the issue|
|Pinsent Masons||Reviewing the issue|
|Reynolds Porter Chamberlain||1 May 2006||Baker Tilly||None|
|Richards Butler||1 May 2006||Deloitte||None|
|Salans||Not considering at present|
|Shoosmiths||Reviewing the issue|
|Simmons & Simmons||Not considering at present|
|SJ Berwin||1 June 2005||Deloitte||None|
|Slaughter and May||Reviewing the issue|
|Stephenson Harwood||Reviewing the issue|
|Travers Smith||Reviewing the issue|
|Taylor Wessing||Reviewing the issue|
|Trowers & Hamlins||Reviewing the issue|
|Watson Farley & Williams||1 May 2005||Pricewaterhouse- Coopers||None|
|Withers||1 January 2002||Deloitte||Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson in the US|
|Wragge & Co||1 May 2003||Baker Tilly||None|
|Source: The Lawyer|