Firm profile: Bermans

Niche commercial firm Bermans celebrated the start of 2005 by securing two important panel appointments.

The Liverpool-based firm scooped a place on General Electric’s (GE) UK panel for asset-based lending and factoring and invoice discounting following the US conglomerate’s infamous electronic tender (The Lawyer, 25 January). John Hall, one of Bermans’ founding partners, says the firm was delighted with the panel appointment as it reaffirmed what was already a longstanding relationship with GE.

Meanwhile, Bermans has also won a place on licensed property agent Fleuret’s legal panel thanks to the firm’s strong ties with Carlsberg Tetley and Fuller’s Brewery.

Bermans’ continued success has led to a move into new premises in Liverpool’s Mercury Court office complex, built on the site of the former Tithebarn Street Exchange station. The firm is poised to sign a lease for 12,500sq ft and plans to take possession of its purpose-built office just after Easter.

Hall is upbeat about Bermans’ future prospects and argues that it is well-placed to exploit the resurgence of Liverpool as the European City of Culture.

The firm, which focuses principally on asset-based lending, factoring and discounting work, acts for the factors owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax Bank of Scotland and ING.

Hall argues that although factoring and discounting work is a niche area, Bermans often has to compete against the likes of Hammonds and DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary for instructions. “We’re head-on with some of the big boys and retaining clients against the big guns is very rewarding,” he says.

Other work includes property, which chips in 20 per cent of Bermans’ turnover. It counts Liverpool-based property company Hampton Trust as one of its key real estate clients. Meanwhile, Bermans is hoping to bolster its employment practice. The firm currently has two employment partners who typically handle cases for the employer.

Bermans was founded in 1970 by Keith Berman and focused principally on commercial litigation, factoring and invoice discounting. In 1981 Berman moved to New York and remains a US-based consultant. Four years later Bermans opened in Manchester. The firm also has a presence in Glasgow thanks to its long association with Scottish firm Macdonalds.

In the early 1990s, Bermans was involved in failed merger discussions with the now defunct DJ Freeman. A successful merger would have given the firm a presence in London, but Hall says that the firm has no plans to find a new suitor.

Board members: John Hall, Ian Mumford, Fergal O’Cleirigh
Turnover £4.5m
Total number of partners Nine
Total number of solicitors 17
Main practice areas Claimant personal injury, civil litigation, wills and probate
Key clients Carlsberg Tetley, the Environment Agency, General Electric and Fleurets
Number of offices Two
Location Liverpool and Manchester

John Hall, Ian Mumford, Fergal O’Cleirigh
Board members