The world’s first listed legal practice, Australia’s Slater & Gordon (S&G), announced its agreement to buy national UK firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) for £53.8 million on the 30 January 2012. My UK-based Edge International Partner Chris Bull joins me in this post as we consider some of the implications of this transaction and how the respective markets are viewing the development.
The S&G and RJ&W joinder is significant:
- an acquisition as such, not a merger, by an Australian law firm of a significant UK firm.
- the fact that the parties operate largely in the personal legal services space rather than the corporate market.
- it will establish, when ratified, a foreign and publicly owned ABS (alternative business structure) in terms of the new UK Legal Services Act.
- the amount involved.
- the exclusion of outside parties such as insurers and investment companies.
This is a positive and exciting development for the legal profession generally but particularly the UK and Australia:
- Merger and acquisition as an outflow of carefully thought-through strategy: as recently stated we see this as affirmation that many law firms see acquisition and merger as simply one possible strategy in achieving their vision and carefully thought through strategic key objectives. It is not a knee-jerk reaction to client or market pressure.