Former Sprecher boss steps into top role at SGH Martineau

SGH Martineau has appointed Emma Shipp, the former head of legacy outfit Sprecher Grier Halberstam, as overall managing partner.

Shipp, who is currently leading SGH Martineau’s London office, takes over from former managing partner Bill Barker, who remains at the firm on a “client-facing” capacity.

The last financial year saw turnover drop at the firm, from £30.4m in 2011/12 to £28.5m in 2012/13. However it was difficult to assess the combined firm’s true financial performance in 2011/12 after only half a year of trading, with Birmingham’s ­Martineau and London’s Sprecher Grier Halberstam (SGH) not tying the knot until December 2011. 

As former managing partner of SGH, Shipp played a crucial role in the 2011 merger. The firm had been through a strategic review in 2010 and decided to remain independent, but when a KPMG consultant who was working with them mentioned that Martineau was on the lookout, Shipp agreed to meet.

Shipp told The Lawyer at the time (12 December 2011) that the oft-talked about pressure on regional and mid-sized firms to ­consolidate did factor into the firm’s thinking, although it did not consider itself at risk.

“We did look at the mid-market merger angle,” she said. “And in the early strategy talks consolidation was mentioned – we thought there’d be more of it and maybe that mid-sized firms could be squeezed out of the market. ”

Following the merger, Shipp, who became a corporate partner in 1993, joined the firm’s executive board alongside SGH litigation head David Bailey, who jointly heads the merged firm’s dispute resolution group.