Martin Arnold elected as managing partner for post-merger Wedlake Bell

Wedlake Bell senior partner Martin Arnold has been elected managing partner for a four-year term in the wake of the firm’s April merger with Cumberland Ellis.

Martin Arnold
Martin Arnold

Arnold, who joined Wedlake Bell as a trainee in 1987 and has been a partner at the firm since 1996, was instrumental in the firm’s tie-up with Cumberland Ellis (1 February 2012) and was not contested in the election. He has been in the role on an interim basis following the decision of the firm’s last managing partner, Philip Matthews, to return to fee earning after a four-year run.

“While we were going through the merger process it was thought inappropriate to elect a new permanent managing partner until things had bedded down and now they have we’ve completed the process,” Arnold told The Lawyer today. He is currently setting up an election process to appoint a new senior partner, who will hold in the position for a four-year term, by the end of January.

No other management changes have taken place following Arnold’s election. Of the 22 partners (the 23rd retired at the point of merger) that joined Wedlake Bell from Cumberland Ellis in April, only two are on the eight-person management board. After two years another election process will take place.

Since merging, the combined firm is understood to have made cost savings in areas such as office space (currently 26,474sq ft in total costing £2m, after Cumberland Ellis closed its office), which is expected to fall dramatically in the current financial year as the firm operates under one roof.

Pre-merger, turnover was around £6.2m for Cumberland Ellis, which focused on commercial, private client and property law, and £18m for full-service Wedlake Bell, a 3 per cent drop on the previous year when turnover was £18.6m. Profit at the latter firm dropped by 24 per cent to £2.2m.