Bond Pearce

Bond Pearce’s managing partner Victor Tettmar intends to harness the growth in the renewable energy sector to pull the firm out of a period of unrest

Bond Pearce” />Name: Victor Tettmar
Title: Managing partner
Firm: Bond Pearce
Turnover: £43.5m
Number of lawyers: 257
Victor Tettmar’s CV
Education: 1979-82: Manchester University, LLB 1982-83: College of Law, Chester
Work History
1983-85: Articled clerk, Bond Pearce.
1985-91: Associate, Bond Pearce
1991: Partner, Bond Pearce
1996: Head of insolvency, Bond Pearce
2000: Appointed to board, Bond Pearce
2006: Managing partner, Bond Pearce

After a tough 18 months, Bond Pearce’s managing partner Victor Tettmar has his eyes focused firmly on the renewable energy sector, which he sees as a lifeline to lift the firm out of its recent financial woes.

Tettmar enthusiastically sees both the Bristol-based firm’s and the planet’s futures aligned with the renewable energy market. The increasingly heated public debate over climate change has certainly lifted the profile of renewable energy and Tettmar is hoping that Bond Pearce’s long-held interest in the sector will now pay off.

“I think there are huge opportunities,” he says of the renewables market. “I think the wind farm industry is just growing so quickly and we’re also broadening into other areas, such as wave, tidal and photovoltic energy.” (In case you were wondering, photovoltic energy is similar to solar energy, except the sun’s rays are turned into electricity instead of heating water.)

But Tettmar is clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as new sources of renewable energy are concerned. “Who knows what’s around the corner in terms of new ideas. There’s such a lot of thinking on it. As a firm we’re at the forefront of recyclables development,” he says.

When Bond Pearce first entered into the renewables market 17 years ago, acting for the first commercial wind farm in the UK at Delabole in Cornwall, the industry was far from fashionable. In fact, Tettmar says that, at the time, it was even considered controversial.

But all of that has since changed and being the trendsetter that the firm claims to be, Bond Pearce has moved on from wind farms, recently advising on the first wave farm to receive planning approval in the UK.

Wave Hub, off the coast of Cornwall, can generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes and while it is still in the testing and development stage, Bond Pearce hopes it will be used commercially within two or three years.

Tettmar sees the firm’s major competitors in the renewables sector as Eversheds, Hammonds, Shepherd and Wedderburn and McGrigors.

In fact, McGrigors is considered such a rival that Bond Pearce recently poached seven members of its oil and gas team, including five partners: while renewables feature heavily in Bond Pearce’s recovery plans, so do the more traditional energy markets.

As part of the plan to expand its energy practice, the firm opened an office in Aberdeen in August, run by partner Claire Munroe, in order to break into the Scottish energy market.

“It’s very much an energy focus at the moment,” says Tettmar of the Aberdeen office. “I think we need to get to know the Aberdeen market first and establish ourselves as an energy practice and then grow it from there.”

Such developments mean the future looks brighter for Bond Pearce. The past 18 months since Tettmar’s appointment as managing partner have been tough for the firm. Its average profit per equity partner dropped from £180,000 in 2005-06 to a disappointing £150,000 in 2006-07 after a major restructuring of its personal injury (PI) practice, from which it shed 25 lawyers.

The restructuring came about after Bond Pearce failed to be reappointed to the Royal Mail’s national PI panel and shed its PI work for the Transport and General Workers’ Union. However, Tettmar claims that the firm has turned a corner, with its first-quarter turnover for the current financial year up by almost 20 per cent compared with the same period last year.

“I think all businesses have rough patches,” says Tettmar. “That’s the cycle of business. You then do your business planning and reshape and refocus. I think we’re in good shape.”

Bond Pearce is also at the forefront of flexible working for its employees, with one of its shipping partners working from Norway and an oil and gas partner living in France. Both come to England to work a couple of times a month. The flexible working policy has also allowed IP partner Tom Phipps to live in Plymouth.

“I think that makes for a healthy working environment,” says Tettmar. “If someone fits in with us then we want to try and accommodate their personal arrangements.”

The firm recognises that some lawyers may want a life outside the office. As a result, it has introduced ‘zero hours’ contracts, where lawyers who have worked for the firm in the past can work on specific projects and just get paid for the work they do.

“If we know someone is very good, but they want to go and do something different, we’re prepared to put them on a contract where they only get paid for the hours they do,” Tettmar explains.

The policies are aimed at keeping good people within the firm. Tettmar himself is a good example of this, having spent his entire 22-year legal career at Bond Pearce.

He recognises that this has both its advantages and disadvantages. “Being here for a long time, you know the culture, you know a lot of people, but what it doesn’t bring is the outside perspective,” he says.

But he believes the perspective he does not have himself he can learn from his colleagues. “It’s been a steep learning curve,” he says of his time in the top job. “There’s a lot to absorb.”