Mishcon de Reya began life as Victor Mishcon & Co in 1937 above Barclays Bank on the Brixton Road. Its founder was Victor Mishcon – later Lord Mishcon. A significant figure in both law and politics, he was Labour home affairs spokesman in the House of Lords from 1983 to 1990 and shadow Lord Chancellor from 1990 to 1992. He also became the first practising solicitor to be made an honorary QC. The law firm has always been dominated by big personalities.
Mishcon de Reya began life as Victor Mishcon & Co in 1937 above Barclays Bank on the Brixton Road. Its founder was Victor Mishcon – later Lord Mishcon. A significant figure in both law and politics, he was Labour home affairs spokesman in the House of Lords from 1983 to 1990 and shadow Lord Chancellor from 1990 to 1992. He also became the first practising solicitor to be made an honorary QC.
The law firm has always been dominated by big personalities. As well as the founder himself, one of the other key figures in the firm’s history was Anthony Julius, who famously acted for Princess Diana during her divorce from Prince Charles. It was Julius who, through his work with Diana, came to be seen as the public and client face of the firm during the 1990s and was de facto managing partner, though he did not assume the title.
Despite the prominence that the royal divorce brought to the firm, the 1990s were not an entirely happy period. Lord Mishcon stood down as senior partner in 1992, four years after a merger with Bartletts de Reya. With the steady hand removed from the tiller, much-publicised rifts ensued. There was a lack of a natural successor. Julius wielded great influence, but was not universally popular and there were numerous partner departures and disputes.
The law firm’s management style was said to be ‘confrontational’. In 1992, it replaced its lockstep profit share with a guaranteed minimum draw of £100,000, with top-up supposedly based 100 per cent on merit to be decided by a remuneration committee. This led to disputes over who should get what.
Eventually, however, the big-billing head of corporate, Kevin Gold, emerged in the top role. He had joined as part of a team hire from Bayer Rosin in 1994, becoming managing partner three years later.
Under Gold, the firm began an astonishing push up the revenue charts. Mishcon de Reya had always been a well-known firm, but it was never a large one and it was better known for litigation and family than corporate work. It took time, but Gold changed that. In 2005 Mishcon de Reya ranked 78th in The Lawyer UK 200, just behind Bircham Dyson Bell. It had revenue of £24.2m and PEP of £295,000. By 2016 it ranked 31st in the UK 200, rising in the charts for the eleventh year in a row. It reported revenue of £151.8m and PEP of £1.1m in that year’s financial results. The Lawyer now places Mishcon de Reya in the ‘silver circle’ bracket alongside Macfarlanes and Travers Smith as a London-centric firm with high profits and high-profile instructions.
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The firm’s increased corporate profile has not come at the expense of its reputation in litigation. Its most recent high-profile instruction was on behalf of Gina Miller in the Article 50 Brexit challenge.
Mishcon de Reya’s first international office opened in New York in 2010 with the hire of a team of litigators; family lawyers followed in 2011. Mishcon de Reya’s American adventure has not been entirely successful, however. In 2016 the firm was forced to scale back its New York office following partner losses and a downturn in profit. The Lawyer revealed the office’s revenue dropped a dramatic 64 per cent in three years, having contributed £6.7m to total revenue in 2014/15, but just £2.4m in 2016/17.
The firm moved into digs on Red Lion Square in 2002 but has since outgrown it and relocated to Africa House in Holborn in 2015.
Gold stepped down as managing partner in 2020 after 23 years but remains essentially in control. As executive chair he still steers the strategy while new managing partner James Libson takes charge of delivery and overall operational management.
The latest development in the firm’s evolution is a potential IPO. This has been in the works for some time and the latest word is that, should all go to plan, Mishcon could be a public company by the fourth quarter of 2021. It is not a done deal yet, however, and more junior partners are understood to be more wary of going forward with a listing.
|Managing partner||Executive chair|
|2020||James Libson||Kevin Gold (role created)|
What is the trainee salary at Mishcon de Reya?
1st year trainee: £42,000
2nd year trainee: £45,000
What is the NQ salary at Mishcon de Reya?
NQ solicitor: £72,000
Number of trainees: 32