Commercial and Private Client Advisory Services
Veale Wasbrough Vizards (VWV) is a UK top 100 law firm with offices in London, Bristol, Birmingham and, from 1 February, Watford. We are a full service firm in our locations offering commercial and private client advisory services, with a national presence in key sectors.
The firm’s key sectors include, Education, Charities, Healthcare, Family Owned Businesses Public and Private Wealth. We are also active in other sectors including Aerospace & Defence, Technology, Start Ups, Energy and Recruitment.
In 2009 I moved to London from Bristol to become Office Managing Partner for London as we merged with a boutique London firm, Vizards Tweedie.
My role has been to integrate the London Office (now around 70 people) into the wider firm, and work with our Managing Partner, Simon Heald, and our four department Heads, to build our business in London. For us this has been about focusing on key sectors where we can truly differentiate ourselves in a very competitive market and play to our strengths.
Winning the CEO award
It’s very pleasing to have your achievements recognised outside your core business. I couldn’t have achieved this on my own and believe my recognition is a result of many people’s efforts which embodies one of our core values of ‘teamwork and collaboration’.
Significant achievements in the last year
We have been joined by some great lateral hires over the year in London, including Serena Tierney, a leading IP lawyer.
Our reappointment to the London Universities Purchasing Consortium panel saw us achieving the highest score of the selected seven law firms. A really significant development has been our acquisition of 30 corporate and commercial lawyers and other staff on the planned de merger of Matthew Arnold & Baldwin in Watford. This will significantly enhance our offering in London and the South - the two offices are just 35 minutes apart.
Our Watford office also adds a new sector expertise for us - Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences.
I trained at Simmons & Simmons and started my career as a Financial Services lawyer. In 1993 I moved to Eversheds in Cardiff and did mainly banking and insolvency work - at that time the Cardiff office was the main banking practice within the Eversheds group. I moved to Bristol in 1998 and joined Veale Wasbrough, as it was then, in 2001 by which time I had morphed into a corporate lawyer.
I enjoy change and think experience over a number of areas of law makes you a better lawyer andadviser. You will never know all the answers, but a broad experience means you get to know the questions you need to ask in the context of the things that really matter to your clients.
I became Head of Corporate in 2006 and in 2008 was invited to join our Management Board - two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed. It was a scary time. Clients just stopped what they were doing for a few months. In spite of that we had the courage to merge with Vizards Tweedie late 2009, at which point I was appointed London Office Managing Partner.
London Office Managing Partner
I have been LOMP since November 2009. I have in fact just stepped down from the role to become Chairman of the firm and take up a client facing role as a corporate partner.
I have a particular interest in Family Businesses - many of our SME clients are family owned, which brings another set of unique issues into play when advising them.
I am also really looking forward to working with my new Watford corporate partners - Richard Phillips, Emma Cameron and Paul Gershlick. Yvonne Spencer has taken over as London Office Partner and will do a great job for us.
Since 2009 London revenue has grown by 50%, and headcount has increased from 50 to 70. Our new office in Watford will add significant additional revenue (around 20% to the firm on an annual basis).
We routinely ask clients for feedback when we complete work for them and achieve a 97% client satisfaction percentage. We have a strong culture across the firm underpinned by three core values - Teamwork and Collaboration, Client at the Centre of the Firm, and Commercial Approach. Culture isone of the main differentiators of professional service firms - our clients and staff notice it and it is one of the reasons they choose us.
Challenges and the future
There is a sense that the business of law will change very significantly within the next decade. Technology has so far increased the speed of what we do, but not so much how we do it. But it will before long, as new players circle around a still fragmented £25
“Get big, get niche or get out” is the oft used cliché, and like all clichés has a core truth to it. We have to do whatever it takes to remain relevant to our clients - our London office will continue to play a big part in that.