Shoosmiths quits private client market as 41-strong team transfers to Midlands firm

Group joins recently launched Rothley Law in deal financed by litigation funder Harbour

Rothley Law chair John Verrill Image courtesy of Rothley Law

Shoosmiths has transferred its entire private client business to Midlands-based firm Rothley Law for an undisclosed sum in a move financed by litigation funder Harbour.

The 41-strong team is led by partners Melissa Maple, Adam Draper and Lucy Taylor and includes wealth protection, disputed will and trusts and Court of Protection teams. The move follows a review by Shoosmiths last year that led to the firm resolving to withdraw from private client and family services.

Rothley launched in May 2022 and is chaired by former Norton Rose Fulbright insolvency partner John Verrill. It is part of the Rothley Group, which also houses specialist financial services claims management businesses, Money Redress. 

Verrill commented: “This is a significant milestone in the development of Rothley Law as we seek to build a nationally recognised consumer brand. The Shoosmiths team is extremely well-regarded amongst clients and through its collaborative work with other advisers, and we are looking forward to working with the team in innovative ways to grow and develop the firm.

“Part of that growth will come through lateral hires, but as an independent firm and with Harbour’s backing, we have the flexibility and appetite for further acquisitions, with a number of potential opportunities clearly in our sights.”

Maple will lead the private client team at Rothley and has more than 20 years’ experience advising high net worth clients on the long-term protection and devolution of their assets. She joined Shoosmiths in 2016 from Oxford law firm Hedges Law. 

Meantime, Draper specialises in claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and joined Shoosmiths in 2016 from the partnership of Irwin Mitchell. At Rothley he leads the disputed wills and trusts team.

Like Draper, Taylor practised at Irwin Mitchell before joining Shoosmiths in 2015, making partner in 2021. She works with clients who lack capacity to manage their own affairs as well as offering advice on compensation protection.

The new arrivals will work from Rothley’s offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Reading. 

Rothley said it plans to build on its consumer law offering with further office openings in Bristol and Leeds later this year, and through further acquisition of firms, business units or teams of lawyers. 

Ellora MacPherson, managing director and chief investment officer at Harbour, said: “This is an example of how Harbour is providing flexible financial support to law firms. Unlike many traditional lenders, our capital can be used for multiple purposes – in this case, for an acquisition. This quarter we have finalised commitments for a number of other similar investments, with others in the pipeline, as law firms are realising the benefits of partnering with a flexible lender who really understands legal businesses.”

While private client work remains lucrative for a number of leading law firms, many others over the years have hived off or substantially wound down their practices in order to focus on other types of work. In the first half of 2021 large teams left Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on both sides of the Atlantic as it underwent a market repositioning.

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