Slater & Gordon sets Pannone integration deadline

Slater & Gordon UK chief executive Neil Kinsella has set the firm a 12-month target to fully integrate its merger with Pannone after the deal is complete.

Kinsella said the firm, which is listed on the Australia Securities Exchange, would have until March 2015 to complete the structural alignment of all five of its UK acquisitions.

Slater & Gordon UK chief executive Neil Kinsella

They include the August 2013 takeover of Taylor Vinters’ Cambridge-based personal injury and Court of Protection practice (19 August 2013) and Liverpool-based Goodmans Law (30 August 2013),

Kinsella said overhauling the management structure would be his top priority in the coming 18 months. He confirmed that Pannone managing partner Emma Holt and financial director Anthony Clare would be key to the Slater & Gordon management team after the merger completes at the end of February.

He added that Holt had been instrumental in the development of practice plans and is leading the integration of staff into Slater & Gordon, including the development of a new content management system.

Since entering the UK market with the acquisition of legacy Russell Jones & Walker in early 2012 (30 January 2012) Slater & Gordon has not only merged with Taylor Vinters and Goodmans, but also absorbed London and Manchester-based Fentons and John Pickering and Partners (24 October 2013).

A potential sixth merger with Simpson Millar was in the pipeline until the firm announced it had deferred further talks until early this year. Sources close to the Leeds-based firm have indicated that talks will not resume but Slater & Gordon maintain that it is a deferral.

Slater & Gordon confirmed that it was in tie-up talks with Pannone in November following months of silence from both firms about the top-level discussions (11 November 2013).

The deal will see Pannone divided between the consumer side, including approximately 400 staff, which will transfer to Slater & Gordon while the corporate side will spin off to form Pannone Corporate.

Slater & Gordon will retain the legacy firm’s Manchester office while integration is underway. The firm has signed a 12-month co-operation agreement with Pannone Corporate. It includes the provision of back-office support and mutual assistance with work and client referrals when necessary (15 January 2014).

The firms have also agreed to maintain the Pannone brand and operate off the existing practice management system until integration programme is complete.

It is believes that a redundancy consultation involving over 100 staff has been underway at Pannone with a completion deadline of the 31 January (10 December 2013).

Sources suggest that staff of Pannone’s white-label arm Affinity was cut as part of that consultation but no official statement has been made on the future of either of Pannone’s Affinity or Connect2Law businesses.

However, Connect2Law chief executive David Jabbari resigned from the firm ahead of the final partner vote and head of Affinity, Charles Layfield, also left the partnership suddenly in November.