Two new managing partner appointments

Richard McNeilly

Richard McNeilly

Bondholders Dains and Smith Cooper - both specialists in accountancy and professional services - have appointed new managing partners recently.

Former head of business development at Bondholder Dains, Richard McNeilly, will replace Spencer Wright as managing partner after more than a decade in post.

Spencer commented: "I'd like to wish Richard and the team every success for the future. I have little doubt that the business will continue to flourish and I am delighted that Richard has taken on the role as managing partner."

James Bagley

Meanwhile, across town at Bondholder Smith Cooper, Andrew Delve has announced his stepping down after two decades as managing partner and handing over the reins to James Bagley. James has worked closely with Andrew over a number of years and is regarded as a gifted business advisor and respected leader.

Andrew Delve commented: "I am proud of what this firm has achieved over the last 20 years and supremely confident that further growth and success will follow under James' leadership."

Nelsons doubles investment management team

Bondholder Nelsons Solicitors has doubled the size of its investment management team, with its independent financial advisors now managing more than £120million of investment.

The team, now standing at nine people, comprises of partner and chartered financial planner Andy Hammond, IFAs Phil Terry, Laura Hatton and Simon Thatcher, as well as a paraplanning manager, two paraplanners, a projects administrator and an administration assistant.

Andy Hammond commented: "Our team has grown rapidly over the last two years, in order for us to offer a first class service that is tailored to the requirements of both our existing and new clients."

He continued: "As we are part of a thriving law firm, our work often overlaps with that of the other teams in the firm, such as wills, probate and trusts, personal injury, corporate and family law. This approach has significant benefits for our clients, as we are offering a multi-disciplinary and full-service proposition."


Flint Bishop hires new partner

Nationally recognised, award winning law firm and Marketing Derby Bondholder, Flint Bishop Solicitors, has this month welcomed Rachel Bennett as a new partner to the business. 

Rachel advises on a full range of corporate matters including acquisitions and disposals, shareholder and joint venture arrangements and private equity. Rachel has a strong reputation throughout the region and is recognised by Chambers and Partners for her “strength in the M&A and private equity sphere.” 

Rachel will be working alongside Partner and Head of Corporate, Martyn Brierley, and her appointment further strengthens the Corporate department’s highly regarded reputation for advising clients on high value and complex corporate transactions. This was reflected by the department’s involvement as legal advisors on three deals which were nominated for awards at the latest East Midlands Insiders Dealmaker Awards, including advisors on the East Midlands SME Deal of the year, being the sale of the national jewellery retailer, Chapelle Jewellery to Hilco Capital, the owners of the HMV entertainment group. 

Managing Partner for Commercial Services, Qamer Ghafoor comments “We are delighted to welcome Rachel Bennett to the firm. She has a fantastic reputation for delivering excellent legal advice to the clients she services. I am sure Rachel will settle into the department and wider business in no time and on behalf of the partnership, we wish her all the very best.”

Freeths celebrates most successful year

Mike Talpin, Managing Partner of Freeths' Derby office

Bondholder Freeths has announced a 14.37% increase in its annual fee income, coming in at £63.8million this year.

Freeths employs a staff of 36 in its Derby office and has a particular focus on growth in its real estate team, which continues to work on a variety of projects both locally and nationally, including the DRI site in Derby.

Mike Taplin, Managing Partner of Freeths' Derby office, said: "The news of our financial achievements, locally and nationally, is testament to the hard work of our staff. We recognised that these successful financial results were only achieved by all members of staff putting in a great deal of hard work and committment over the past 12 months. As a result, all staff were rewarded with a 6.65% bonus payment in May and an ex gratia payment in April. We work hard as a team to deliver the results our clients want and we are lucky to also be able to invest time and resource to the local community, in schemes such as Right to Read and various charity fundraising events, which we look forward to continuing throughout the year."

Alongside being ranked in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and being accredited as a best company 2015, Freeths has been recognised for its diversity with two new awards. The UK Diversity Legal Awards gave the firm the Firm of the Year title, and Stonewall recognised the firm as a Diversity Champion.

Smith Cooper scoop SME Deal of the Year 2016

The Corporate Finance team at Bondholder Smith Cooper has won the prestigious SME Deal of the Year accolade for the second year running at Insider’s Dealmaker Awards.

The Insider Dealmaker Awards remain an extremely prestigious and well regarded event in the region’s calendar, bringing together the key corporate finance firms and individuals who have been busy successfully creating deals over the past 12 months.

Smith Cooper were shortlisted for three categories; Advisory Team of the Year, SME Deal of the Year and Deal of the Year at the 2016 Awards which took place on 19th May, and on the night scooped the SME Deal of the Year for the sale of the UK’s largest designer-outlet jewellery chain, Chapelle Jewellery, to Hilco Capital.

John Farnsworth, Corporate Finance Partner at Smith Cooper commented: “We were delighted to be shortlisted for three Awards, but winning SME Deal of the Year two years running last night was the icing on the cake – and a tribute to the hard work of the whole Smith Cooper team”.  

The deal was led by Smith Cooper’s Corporate Finance team members John Farnsworth and David Crump who acted as lead advisers to Paul and Margaret Mortimer, shareholders of the 24-site Chapelle Jewellery business.  Legal advice was provided by Martyn Brierley of Flint Bishop, whilst Natasha Smith, a Partner specialising in transactional tax at Smith Cooper, provided tax advice.

In 2015 Smith Cooper Corporate Finance had a record year, ranking 9th in terms of deal volume in the Midlands. In the last year it has grown through a number of key appointments including two new Partners, Darren Hodson and Dan Bowtell, who head the Corporate finance divisions in Birmingham and Nottingham respectively, and Logan Mantle in Derby. A further appointment is imminent.

Flint Bishop secures hat trick of awards

Bondholder law firm Flint Bishop has now won all of the three nationally-recognised debt recovery awards this year.

The firm was crowned the 'Best Legal Team' by the Credit Today Awards at a glamorous event held at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

These three major awards for legal recoveries have been won by Flint Bishop year-on-year and are the highest recognition for excellence in credit management and debt collection.

Qamer Ghafoor, Managing Partner of Commercial Services and Head of Litigation, commented: "I am pleased that the department has received the recognition it deserves across these three awards. Over the last few years, we have been going from strength to strength and our household name client wins are a testament to the quality and standard of the legal services that we are able to deliver. The firm always goes the extra mile for our clients."

Over the last few years, we have been going from strength to strength and our household name client wins are a testament to the quality and standard of the legal services that we are able to deliver.
— Qamer Ghafoor, Managing Partner of Commercial Services and Head of Litigation at Flint Bishop

Four senior promotions in Nelsons real estate team

Three team members have been promoted to Associates and one to Partner in the expanding real estate team at Bondholder law firm Nelsons Solicitors.

Chris Huntingford is taking on the role of Partner while colleagues Rachel Bushell, Trevor Scott and Mary Gharmount have been promoted to associates. Chris specialises in providing advice on properties over £500,000 and technical conveyancing matters. He commented: "I'm very grateful for the confidence the firm has shown in me since I joined. The property market in Derby continues to expand and we have positioned our conveyancing department to take full advantage of the improving market conditions."

Rachel joined the firm in 2013 and is keen to grow the residential conveyancing offering following her promotion. She said: "The team is very busy at the moment, which is indicative of how the property market in Derby is flourishing. Our goal is to maintain our exceptional services which we offer to clients and to capitalise on new business leads as the market continues to thrive."

Trevor has over 13 years' experience working in the property sector across the East Midlands and joined Nelsons in 2013. Commenting on his promotion he said: "My aim for the next year is to focus on developing more strong local business relationships and to establish Nelsons' residential property department as the number one choice for clients in the East Midlands."

Mary also joined the team in 2013 and specialises in real estate with a particular focus on commercial property and residential development. She said: "Stand out projects in my career to date at Nelsons have included working alongside a developer on a 7-year project to build over 250 houses in the Derby area. Over the next few years I would like to attract new developer clients so that we can further develop the plot sales within the team in the Derby office and provide an exceptional service for developers."

New appointments at Derby law firms

Three appointments have been made between Derby law firms and Bondholders Geldards and Flint Bishop in the last month.

Ben Lawson was snapped up by Geldards' Derby office as an associate solicitor in the firm's family law team and brings with him specialism in the resolution of financial matters for medium to high net worth individuals. Fiona Apthorpe, Family Law Partner and Head of Geldards' family team, said: "The family law market remains increasingly competitive and our clients expect a comprehensive level of service. Adding Ben's experience considerably boosts the strength of our team and enables the firm to continue to deliver innovative and cost-effective legal solutions to our wide range of clients."

Flint Bishop has also made two appointments. Martyn Brierley is now Parter and Head of Corporate. He has worked on some of the largest corporate deals in the region and boasts a strong reputation within corporate law. Martyn is a sought-after solicitor who can advise on mergers, acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, finance transactions and more.

Lucy Carter also joins the partnership as one of only a handful of Notaries Public in Derbyshire. Flint Bishop is now able to offer support for authenticating and certifying signatures for documents abroad, such as overseas powers of attorney, purchase or sale and land and property, to name a few.

Andrew Cochrane, Senior Partner at Flint Bishop, said: "I have great delight in welcoming two new additions to the partnership at Flint Bishop. Martyn has been with the business for many years and is an outstanding Corporate Lawyer. He is leading a strong team and I have no doubt he will continue to build on the success of the department over the coming years."

"Lucy Carter is a new hire to Flint Bishop, a fantastic addition to our Commercial Property department. Lucy is one of only a few Notaries Public throughout the region and this service offering will enable overseas transactions to occur, with Lucy's support."

Flint Bishop shortlisted for third national award

Bondholder Flint Bishop - the largest independent, top 200, law firm in the region - has been nominated for a third nationally-recognised debt recovery award for its contribution to Debt Recovery at this year's Credit Today awards.

The firm already holds two of the three nationally-recognised awards and so is delighted to be shortlisted for the third and final award.

Qamer Ghafoor, Managing Partner of Commercial Services and Head of Litigation commented: "The Debt Recovery team has grown significantly over the course of the last two years, with the success of many major new contract wins. Although we operate from a Derby base, our clients are very much leading national brands across a number of industries. We are fortunate enough to be seeing expansion across the whole firm, but particularly amongst the Debt Recovery department. I'm looking forward to the awards ceremony, where I hope we will once again be recognised for our ability to deliver a first class debt recovery solution and add value to our clients."

In the last twelve months Flint Bishop has been recognised at the CCR awards where it won the 'Collections' category and was highly commended for its contribution in 'Legal and Enforcement'.

The second major award win was the 'Third Party Debt Collection Team of the Year' at the CICM British Credit Management Awards and Flint Bishop was again highly commended, this time in the 'Legal Team of the Year' category.

Freeths looks forward after record year

Bondholder Freeths is looking ahead after a record year where over 100 deals were completed by its corporate department.

Last month is a proof that the year has gotten off to a strong start with six completed deals including advising Leumi ABL on the loan funding to support the purchase of Laidlaw Architectural Ironmongery and Balustrading solutions. Another deal in January was advising Adestra Limited in relation to an investment made by the Business Growth Fund.

The increased levels of deals completed by our private equity team in 2015 was a real success story and we look forward to this continuing in 2016
— Lee Clifford, National Head of Private Equity at Freeths

Lee Clifford, National Head of Private Equity, said: "The increased levels of deals completed by our private equity team in 2015 was a real success story and we look forward to this continuing in 2016. Funders have a strong appetite to invest in quality businesses and we go into 2016 with the market remaining very competitive."

Karl Jansen, National Head of Corporate, said: "We are very proud of what was a record year in 2015, and which is reflected in the Experian rankings. It is testament to not only the positive M&A market, but also to the hard work and growing reputation of our corporate team. It is also reflective of the strong year that the Freeths business has had generally. We plan to capitalise on the success of 2015 and use this momentum to make 2016 even more successful."

In the year-end league tables by Experian, Freeths ranked 17th in the UK and in the Top 10 Firms in the Midlands.

Flint Bishop's double award success

Bondholder law firm Flint Bishop's Debt Collection department has secured an award win at the home of Europe's largest credit community, CICM (Chartered Institute of Credit Management).

The team scooped the Third Party Debt Collection Team of the Year award and was highly commended for the Legal Team of the Year at an awards ceremony held in London earlier this month.

We have had an extremely successful year and the firm continues to increase in both workload and staff size
— Qamer Ghafoor, Managing Partner of Commercial Services and Head of Litigation

These awards mean that Derby's largest independent law firm has won all three nationally-recognised awards within CICM, Credit Today and the Credit Collection and Risk Awards.

The news follows an impressive 18 months where the team has secured a range of major clients from well-known brands.

Qamer Ghafoor, Managing Partner of Commercial Services and Head of Litigation, said: "The CICM is amongst one of the most prestigious and largest associations specifically for the credit industry. We have had an extremely successful year and the firm continues to increase in both workload and staff size. We are recruiting in almost all areas of the business, with new projects in the pipeline. This is only our start of the plans for 2016 and I'm confident this will be a great year for Flint Bishop."

Hires and promotions at Flint Bishop

Zoe Dowthwaite (left) and Kelly Westwood (right)

Bondholder law firm Flint Bishop Solicitors is delighted to announce the promotion of Zoe Dowthwaite to Head of Marketing following almost four years of working at the firm.

Zoe has shot up the ranks at the multi-award winning law firm following recent successful marketing campaigns, which include obtaining the firm's International award given by Thomson Reuters for use of the firms CRM database.

Flint Bishop has also recruited Kelly Westwood who brings with her a wealth of experience in profiling law firms, event management and national targeting, which will aid the firms profile within the local and national market place.

The firm continued to build on its successes which, in the last twelve months have seen highlights in all areas of law, evidenced in the nine award nominations in the last twelve months.

Andrew Cochrane, Partner, Head of Commercial Services and Licensing at Flint Bishop, said: "We're branching out into unknown markets, winning large mutli-million pound national clients, are enjoying multiple award nominations and pushing forward with growth plans. We're pleased to acknowledge the commitment Zoe has given the firm during the last four years and to welcome Kelly into the team."

Knights welcomes leading experts

Gurmeet Jakhu joins Knights Professional Services and brings over 15 years' experience with him

Bondholder Knights Professional Services has recently appointed regional and experienced experts to join its team.

Recognised as one of the leading franchise specialists in the Legal 500, Gurmeet Jakhu will be based at the firm's office at Pride Park. Gurmeet joins the expanding litigation team and brings over 15 years' experience and knowledge of franchising and licensing to the firm.

David Beech, CEO at Knights Professional Services, said: "We're delighted to have Gurmeet join our growing team, he is bringing a very niche area of expertise to the firm which will really enhance our litigation offering and fits well with our strategic plans. Having lectured on behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the British Franchise Organisation I am confident he will be a very strong asset to Knights."

One of the region's most highly-regarded lawyers, Zaf Bashir, joins Knights Professional Services

I wanted to find the right place to continue growing my profession and Knights is the perfect fit
— Zaf Bashir

Knights has also appointed one of the region's most highly-regarded lawyers, Zaf Bashir, who brings with him more than 20 years' experience. During his career he has increased revenues for his previous department five-fold and played a major role in the growth of the business before deciding to leave earlier last year.

Zaf commented: "I wanted to find the right place to continue growing my profession and Knights is the perfect fit. As one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking firms in the UK, I'm really thrilled to be joining the team - it was the top choice."

Innes England oversees Nelsons revamp

Sterne House on Lodge Lane

Bondholder and Derby-based law firm Nelsons Solicitors has undertaken a transformation project at its Sterne House office on Lodge Lane which is being overseen by fellow Bondholder Innes England.

Additions include an impressive glazed atrium as well as a brand new conference room on the building's top floor.

Mike Thorne, Director at Innes England said: "The building was in need of modernisation so having looked carefully at the options they decided that a refurbishment programme would deliver what they were looking for."

Staff at Nelsons have temporarily moved out of the building during the works and are expected to return early this year to an improved, high-quality working environment.

Nelsons has also secured the National Law Society's law management quality mark, Lexcel, for the eleventh year running - an optional, recognised accreditation scheme for law firms and in-house legal teams.

Geldards eyes acquisitions following year of growth

Chief Executive of Geldards, Jeff Pearson

Chief Executive of Geldards, Jeff Pearson

Bondholder law firm Geldards has reported a year of growth after its successful integration of Robinsons earlier this year. The firm is now actively seeking further takeover opportunities in the region to boost its prospects further.

For the year ending 31st July 2015, the firm reports a turnover of £22.5m, rising from £20.9m in the previous year. Profit before members' remuneration and profit shares rose to £4.1m from £3.9m.

Average numbers for staff employed per month also rose from 264 to 291. Revenue was boosted by the integration of Robinsons and the deal is expected to provide further benefits in the current financial year.

Jeff Pearson, Chief Executive of Geldards said: "Given the integration costs we were pleased with our performance in a year that had its challenges for everyone. I am cautiously optimistic about this financial year and looking at further growth from our existing business."

Success and progress for Geldards

Left to right: Graham Banks, David Williams and Heather Dixon

Bondholder law firm Geldards has achieved top rankings in both The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners legal directories for 2016.

Top tier rankings are up by 11% year-on-year, with 28% of Geldards' submissions recording a rise up the Legal 500 tables. In addition to this, 17 partners of the firm are included in the elite 'leading individuals' list.

The independent Chambers and Partners rankings demonstrate our commitment to delivering the best quality legal services and providing our clients with the reassurance that they are being advised by some of the leading experts in their field
— David Williams, Chairman at Geldards

The release of Chambers & Partners 2016 has also given high profile recognition to a record number of 34 of Geldards lawyers including Partners David Watson, Mark Hacking, Heather Dixon and Debra Martin.

Recognised in 19 practice areas nationwide the firm has received high praise across the board with one client stating: 'they understand what our real needs are, and they fight for those needs.'

One of the more high profile improvements was achieved by Geldards' Commercial Dispute Resolution Team led by 'notable practitioners' Nino Simone and Jonathan Butler. The practice was ranked in the higher 'Midlands' regional' category, as opposed to 'Derby and Surrounds', for the first time.

Commenting on the inclusion Jonathan Butler said: 'We're delighted with this year's rankings which are a testimony to the calibre of our team and the high confidence our valued clients continue to place in us.'

Chairman of Geldards David Williams said: 'The independent Chambers and Partners rankings demonstrate our commitment to delivering the best quality legal services and providing our clients with the reassurance that they are being advised by some of the leading experts in their field.'

Knights rises to the top with new acquisition

Managing Parter at Darbys, Simon McCrum (left), and David Beech, CEO of Bondholder Knights Professional Services.

Bondholder Knights Professional Services is in talks to acquire another major regional law-firm with expected completion in early January.

As part of its ambitious plans for expansion, the legal and professional services firm is set to acquire Darbys Solicitors LLP and once the acquisition has completed Knights will reach a combined turnover of £40 million and will employ more than 300 professionals across seven offices, including three of Darbys’ current locations.

Knights set an ambitious business objective to become a top 100 law firm by 2017 - and with the purchase of Darbys, we have achieved that target a year early.
— David Beech, CEO Knights Professional Services

The acquisition will establish Knights as one of the largest independent professional services firms in the UK.

David Beech, CEO of Knights Professional Services explained: 'We have been talking to Darbys as part of Knights' expansion plans and culturally we felt this was the perfect fit for both businesses in terms of client services, expertise and geographical coverage. We have a similar ethos in respect of our working practices and our focus on delivering outstanding client service. Knights set an ambition business objective to become a top 100 law firm by 2017 - and with the purchase of Derbys, we have achieved that target a year early. We are proud of the growth that Knights has seen over the past two years in particular - which has seen us open in two new locations, appoint more than 150 new professionals and double our turnover.'

Knights Professional Services expanded into Derby in August of this year after meeting with the Invest in Derby team at the popular embassy breakfast event at MIPIM in Cannes.  

Knights boosts real estate team

Joanne Backhouse brings 14 years' worth of experience to Knights Professional Services' real estate team

Bondholder Knights Professional Services continues to grow its Derby real estate offering with the hire of one of the city's leading commercial property lawyers.

Joanne Backhouse brings more than 14 years' of experience across a range of sectors including healthcare and aviation having advised numerous local and national companies including a global telecommunications business.

Knights has a unique culture with a strong emphasis on team work which I’m looking forward to being a part of
— Joanne Backhouse
Joanne is an expert in her field with a strong reputation and a wealth of local knowledge
— David Beech, CEO at Knights Professional Services

Knights is recruiting now at a rate of one professional per week to join its huge team of 250 professionals across four counties including Derbyshire.