28 Mar 2022

Clyde & Co and BLM agree £700m UK-focused merger

International insurance law giant Clydes says deal will allow it to provide 'full scope of services' to UK clients

CITY OF LONDON, LONDON-SEPTEMBER 7,2017: The St Botolph Building in high-tech architectural style on September 7, 2017 in London.

Clyde & Co's headquarters in the St Botolph Building Patrik Slezak; Shutterstock

Partners at Clyde & Co and BLM have voted through a merger deal that will add almost £100m to Clydes' top line.

The combined firm will be known as Clyde & Co and the deal, set to go live this July, sees BLM’s 790 lawyers combine with Clydes' 2,440 legal professionals to create a firm with revenues of around £735m.  

It is the largest UK-focused merger since CMS absorbed Olswang and Nabarro in 2016 and is the largest merger for Clydes in terms of revenue and headcount since it combined with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert back in 2011. It is also the latest in a line of UK law firm mergers spanning 30 years driven by large insurance companies' demands for bulk work to be conducted competitively but also consistently and to a high level of quality.

BLM focuses on insurance risk and commercial law and has three has offices in Ireland as well as 10 across the UK. The merger will see it become part of Clydes' global insurance practice, which provides advisory and dispute resolution services to insurers and their clients including almost every top 20 insurer in the UK.

James Cooper, Clyde & Co partner and chair of its global insurance practice group, said the firm had been looking to increase the scale of its UK casualty insurance practice through a merger to provide “the full scope of services, tech, data analytics and innovation that clients in this part of the market require". 

“Once we started speaking to BLM we realised that we shared the same approach to client service, had a complementary client roster and similar ambitions in this space," he added. "This combination will also boost our regional UK presence and strengthen our healthcare and professional liability offerings too.”

YearTargetLocationApprox No. Partners
2005Beaumont & SonsLondon18
2011Paskell MeadeMontreal15
2011Barlow Lyde & GilbertLondon80
2015Simpson & MarwickEdinburgh45
2016Lee & LyonsSydney5
2018SedgwickSan Francisco15
2021SHK Law CorporationVancouver6
2021REN Legal London2

The majority of BLM’s lawyers will join Clyde’s casualty insurance practice, with other sizable groups joining professional liability, healthcare and business advisory teams.

Matthew Kelsall, Clyde & Co’s CEO, said the combination “bolsters our position as a leading law firm for the insurance sector in the UK by enhancing our ability to offer insurers the depth and breadth of support across business lines and regions they are looking for".

Clydes has been steadily expanding its global footprint and currently has more than 50 offices and associated practices worldwide, including 13 in the Americas and Asia Pacific respectively, eight in the Middle East and Africa and 16 across the UK and continental Europe. The merger with BLM follows last year’s combination with Vancouver firm SHK Law Corporation in May and the absorption of aviation-focused City boutique REN Legal in October to boost its transaction and commercial litigation offering in its global aviation practice. 

Last year also saw the firm set up shop in Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas following the arrival of a team of insurance lawyers from Foran Glennon Palandech Ponzi & Rudloff, which Kelsall described at the time as “a significant step in our aim to build the leading national US insurance practice".

Clydes reported last July that its revenue had increased by 2% to £639.6m over its financial year to 30 April against a 7.5% increase in profit-per-equity partner (PEP) to reach £715k. In contrast, BLM’s financial growth has stagnated in recent years, with turnover hovering around the £100m mark since 2015 and PEP falling 37% in the same period, according to Law.com

The firm has also had to fend off competition from its larger UK insurance specialist competitors, including Kennedys, which hired seven lawyers and three partners from it last May to beef up its catastrophic injury team. 

Matthew Harrington, BLM's senior partner, described the merger with Clydes as “one of aligned approaches and values, offering huge benefits to our clients in the areas that matter most".

He added that combining each firm’s respective expertise “will strengthen our market offering in the UK casualty, healthcare and professional liability space, with true operational excellence and the agility to respond rapidly to the changing needs of the market".

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