Only 16 of the top 30 UK-headquartered private equity firms have in-house legal capability, according to groundbreaking research published by The Lawyer today (24 June).
The findings are contained in a 70-page report, believed to be the first of its kind in the legal sector, which was produced after several months of intensive research involving detailed interviews with senior in-house private equity lawyers employed by some of the industry’s biggest players.
Many of the legal functions identified by our research comprise a single fully-qualified lawyer working alongside a junior compliance officer or secondee. The same trend emerges in the London offices of some of the leading US-buyout houses including the likes of Blackstone Group, which have followed their UK counterparts by hiring their first ever in-house lawyer.
Two of the largest in-house legal teams within UK-headquartered private equity houses are based at 3i Group and Actis.
Currently, 3i employs approximately 10 solicitors compared to 20 a decade ago, when the group had lawyers stationed in Birmingham. Meanwhile, Actis the emerging markets private equity firm that formed in 2004 as a spin out of CDC Group (formerly Commonwealth Development Corporation) has a six strong legal function in London.
Much of the hiring was triggered by the global financial crisis, which resulted from the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers. Other contributing factors include increasing regulation and greater deal complexity.
The report also examined lateral hires going back a decade with the highest volume of partner moves witnessed in 2011 and 2012 when 15 and 13 partners moved firms respectively.
SJ Berwin lost 12 partners during 2003 and 2013 making it the biggest loser in terms of partner departures. However, the silver circle firm continues to have one of the largest private equity practices in the City, boasting 25 dedicated fund formation partners and 34 associates.
To purchase your copy of The Lawyer’s In-house Private Equity Report, which in addition to in-depth analysis, contains detailed profiles of 35 in-house legal teams, please click here or contact Nic Losardo on 020 7970 4146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.