These days there is no legal aid work – the £1m-plus practice was ditched a couple of years ago along with the publicly funded family law area – and the diversified firm is based in gleaming new offices in the centre of Manchester.
JMW, which is suffused with a willingness to try something new, is currently blazing a trail in the legal market by becoming involved in the football transfer market. It is not only looking to advise on the sports law aspects of deals, but has made overtures to various clubs and the Football Association (FA) about acting as an agent to younger players.
“This is an exciting venture,” says managing partner Bill Jones. “We believe it’s unique.”
Around 18 months ago JMW hired former Leeds United player Ben Haworth to spearhead its new practice, which involves targeting younger players via an educational programme. The firm has already been welcomed by neighbour Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. It has also presented to the FA and Blackburn Rovers.
Elsewhere, Jones is only half joking when he says JMW is slowly building “a corporate empire”. This involves targeting other new business initiatives under what will be the holding company, JMW Business Services. Two years ago it bought one of the UK’s largest claims management companies, Wheels At Once (trading as U Claim), for £850,000. The company, which remains separate from JMW’s LLP, now provides the firm’s insurance litigation department with hundreds of leads for free.
“In these times, when dealflow is relatively low,” says Jones, “it’s good to have litigation to fall back on. Prior to this deal litigation was about 10 per cent of the practice, now it’s closer to 35 per cent.”
Another separate business line is money laundering-focused training company ML Solutions 4U.
But it is not all about disputes. Jones says the firm is ploughing the profits from its various business activities back into the firm to help fund the growth of other commercial areas of the practice, including IP, insolvency and corporate.
Managing partner: Bill Jones
Number of partners: 27
Number of equity partners: Seven
Number of lawyers: 45
Number of fee-earners: 60
Number of offices: One
Main practice areas: Corporate, commercial property, employment, insolvency, insurance litigation, IP, sports
Clients: N Brown Group, Richer Sounds, Fred Perry, Jernella, Max Clifford, Marks & Spencer, KPMG