Clydes follows BLG, Links, Lovells with LLP conversion

Clyde & Co

will join the flurry of law firms converting to LLP status tomorrow (1 May), The Lawyer can reveal.

The move, which the law firm has been preparing for over the past 12 months, comes after Clydes’ partnership took a formal vote at its partner conference in March.

The firm’s chief executive Peter Hasson said the decision was made because partners felt risk management issues have become increasingly important in recent years. For example, law firms are keen to limit exposure to major negligence claims, such as in the cases of Equitable Life and BCCI, which collapsed spectacularly.

“We thought it would be sensible to bring the whole firm under the same risk strategy,” said Hasson. “However, our Hong Kong and Shanghai offices will continue to operate as partnerships, as Chinese law doesn’t allow for LLPs.”

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG), Linklaters and Lovells will also convert to LLP status tomorrow, despite concerns that they may have had to postpone the conversions.

The issue, which was resolved a matter of weeks ago, was whether UK LLP status would lead to double taxation by the French authorities.

Lovells senior partner John Young echoed the feelings of all the firms converting tomorrow when he said the move is important.

However, he added: “The step has little or no impact on the day-to-day service we provide for our clients.

“It simply reflects our decision to adopt a structure for our business that’s more suited to the modern practice of law than the 1890 Partnership Act.”

As revealed by The Lawyer (18 March), the conversion of these four firms will mean that more than 40 of the top 100 firms have registered as LLPs with Companies House, the official register of UK businesses.

Other top firms, including Ashurst and Norton Rose, are continuing to review their status and the need to convert into LLPs.