mating dance

Let the mating ritual dance commence.


Clyde & Co and BLM have commenced talks regarding a potential merger.

Discussions are underway, although it is understood they are still at an early stage. So while there may be some strutting and sniffing and poring over spreadsheets, it may or may not result in the firms hooking up. 

Clydes is the bigger beast, of course, with turnover at £639.6m in 2020/21 compared with BLM's £96.3m, meaning that a merger could result in a firm with combined revenues of over £730m.

Clydes' total staff number worldwide is around 4,000 compared with BLM's headcount of around 1,320, while Clydes has 440 partners with 2,000 legal professionals (excluding partners) compared with BLM's 212 partners and an additional 579 legal professionals.

10 years ago, when Clydes merged with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, the latter didn't even get a place on the letterhead (although, clutching at straws, at least the "Lyde" in BLG appears in the word "Clyde").

If a merger goes ahead this time, it remains to be seen whether any of BLM's letters will survive, though given the rise and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the firm is probably desperate to ditch them just to leave behind the client jokes. Apparently, the following urls are currently up for grabs. Although RollOnFriday is not encouraging any mischievous cyber-squatting, of course.


Clyde BLM

BLM Clyde

Just Clydes


“We are a firm that has a track record of growth and of continually developing our capabilities for the benefit of our clients," a Clyde & Co spokewoman told RollOnFriday. "At any time we are in discussion with a number of firms, teams or individual lawyers and it is our practice not to comment on these until they near or reach conclusion.”

A BLM spokeswoman told RollOnFriday, “We are regularly looking at opportunities to further our growth ambitions and often attract parties interested in best utilising our strong market position. At any one time therefore, we may be assessing a number of these opportunities be they acquisition, strategic hire, merger or investment proposition".

"In a consolidating market now is no different but we will not take any such opportunities forward unless they help us to progress our vision and are in the best interests of our people, the firm and clients", the BLM spokeswoman added. 


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Comments

Anon 26 November 21 09:41

Clydes want the clients, they don’t need all the extra junior partners and associates.  You can see where this will lead.  

Anonymous 26 November 21 09:46

A comment on the picture- birds of paradise are beautiful but something about them doing those displays just freaks me out.

A 26 November 21 09:54

BLM employee here and first I've heard of this. It always makes you feel valued to learn information about your employer from an outside source...

Anon 26 November 21 09:54

"A BLM spokeswoman told RollOnFriday: “We are regularly looking at opportunities to further our growth ambitions" ".

Getting bought out and asset stripped by a firm with a revenue six times higher than yours broadly achieves that, I guess.

Also, given the relatively high number of partners at BLM compared to Clydes, and the significantly lower PEP at BLM, it seems likely there will be a lot of retirement of partners at BLM, or de-equity.

 

BLMer 26 November 21 10:07

@09.54 It’s typical of the MT at BLM. They will never speak to us or care about us. We are always the last to find out but the rumours have been circulating for a long time. 

Anon 26 November 21 10:08

The idea  of any BLM associate NQ  who is lucky enough to keep their job if there is a merger being paid anything like £70k made me laugh out loud.  In a number of insurance disputes teams at Clydes they don’t pay NQs that anyway.   

Anon 26 November 21 10:10

£45k as an NQ in the City is dire even in that market. If DACB, Kennedys etc can pay around £55k then BLM must be able to. 

Anonymous 26 November 21 10:17

Bit sad to hear that BLM might be about to sell out to big corporate interests.

The cause of racial equity justice and anti-racism is too important to be sacrificed on the altar of PEP and market leading growth ambitions.

Suspect that Clydes will want people at their desks all hours, which will leave little time left for the important business of shouting slogans outside of high-profile criminal trials. Sad.

Anon 26 November 21 10:17

“BLM staff must be praying for this merger to take place!”

Only if they want to go through a redundancy process and then, if they are lucky enough to keep their jobs at the end of it, continue to be paid very badly but this time whilst sitting next to Clydes associates on 30-40k more who do the same work with the clients that BLM brought over.   Doesn’t sound particularly attractive to me to be completely honest. 

Huh? 26 November 21 10:45

"given the rise and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the firm is probably desperate to ditch them just to leave behind the client jokes."

Am I missing something?  Not sure what is funny about this or why people would make jokes.

Anonymous 26 November 21 11:01

‘Huh?’ - BLM the firm now gets mistaken for BLM the movement, ergo the firm wants a different name so that stops happening. Hth 

Anonymous 26 November 21 11:25

I recall someone years ago typing a funny comment about a similar situation along the lines of comparing it to 2 people looking across a nightclub dance floor at 2am and thinking "you'll do". 

Ex BLM & Clyde's Person 26 November 21 11:32

Having worked at both firms and watching both over the years, there will be no BLM, it will not be a merger, BLM will be taken over by Clyde & Co.  Clyde & Co have done well through acquisitions and growth but ...... staff are just numbers and of no importance to this firm, this will be a massive culture shock to BLM employees.

Huh? 26 November 21 11:33

'Anonymous at 11.01'.  A much better explanation as to why BLM the firm wants to rebrand, rather than rollonfriday talking about clients making jokes about BLM (the firm) and Black Lives Matter.  Not sure there is a joke there.

Anonymous 26 November 21 22:26

I suspect that Clyde & Co. will make BLM an offer they can't refuse. Indeed, BLM is in no position to turn down any offer -- a £25 gift voucher for Halfords and a bag of peanuts should be enough to close this deal.

Anon 26 November 21 22:33

This would be a bizarre move by Clydes.  I cannot see anything in it for them.  BLM has been lagging for some time, so why take it on?  

Anon 2 27 November 21 00:34

Stay away from BLM. They must be the worst law firm ever. I know. We were gobbled up by them and what was once a fab place to work with good interaction between partners and staff turned in to the complete opposite where the personal feel had gone, you were just a number and had no conversations with the partners or now jumped,up associates who were now only interested in fees, fees and more fees and to be the top fee earner of the month. You were supposed to feel proud and privileged to be employed by BLM. Yeah whatever. Very sad 😔 

Anon 27 November 21 08:10

I work at neither firm yet heard about this acquisition  three weeks ago. Purchase price is £1 plus BLM's debt. BLM have been up for sale for a good few years now. Sedgwicks were interested for a while but were scared off by the level of debt. Weightmans had a touch and feel then thought better of it. But looks as if Clydes will take the plunge. There are some good people at BLM. I wish them well in their new firm. 

Anonymous 27 November 21 10:03

At least Barclays and HSBC now look set to get their money back. A question for Clyde's: Are you certain that it makes sense to take on a firm with zero prospects and a £21m overdraft?

Anonymous 27 November 21 10:43

The only reason for Clydes to do this is to total up the (largely) defence contracts BLM holds, work out how much fee income they can generate and then the cost of culling the duplicate staff and deadwood. If Sedgwick and Weightmans have already done this and declined then it doesn't appear to be a good deal.

Anonymous 27 November 21 11:42

It’s a shame Dickinson Dees was never able to clinch that merger with Quality Solicitors.

They’ll just have to console themselves that they now share a name (but not accounts) with US firm Wombles. 

Daphne 27 November 21 16:17

10.21 Billy - no news on a merger here at S&G but more senior management leaving the business so very much business as usual! 

Anon 28 November 21 09:08

It’s very naive for any BLM associate to think “oh wow we will now be Clydes people and get paid £70k as NQs”.  
 

As said above, Clydes will take the clients, keep a few of the partners who have the relationships and being in the work, then get rid of pretty much everyone else and close regional offices they don’t need or want.  It just doesn’t make economic sense for Clydes to take on the liabilities of a failing firm.  It will asset strip and it will be very messy.  

Warrior 28 November 21 11:51

This is not a merger. It is a takeover, pure and simple. 
 

It’s good news for the remaining firms in the insurance space. Bad for insurers who are reaping what they sow: cut fees so much that firms have to merge to survive, reducing insurer choice. The worm turns eventually. 
 

Keoghs and Horwich Farrelly will be pleased. Gives them a chance to cherry-pick some decent lawyers for a change and move away from their low-cost high-volume model at the ultra low end of the market. 

Owns a calculator 28 November 21 20:13

Kevin 28 November 21 17:08

That's such a "Kevin" thing to say Kevin.

If you add up the turnover of the three firms you mention it's still slightly less than Clydes turnover.

Other than that - good observation.

Kevin.

 

Human 28 November 21 21:08

What are the assets worth stripping? Marginally profitable insurance claims? Assuming BLM are pretty much operating pared down to the bone now, it should be the Clyde's people who should be worried about their work being North-shored to solicitors willing to work on half their salary.

Anon 29 November 21 10:12

Kennedys is a much smaller firm than Clydes by turnover and PEP.  In terms of the insurance industry, I’d say they both probably about equal although Kennedys main focus is on that whereas Clydes is an actual city firm with other profitable areas.  
 

As for what assets Clydes would obtain, it would be the clients and the regional offices - insurers who haven’t used Clydes much and who would give them the work now if Clydes had a better regional presence.  Agree the whole insurance market esp the PII and Casualty market is a race to the bottom but for that reason Clydes would be interested in BLm’s pre existing regional hub which is well established and set up  so they immediately become a major regional player.  It’s something Clydes have struggled with for a while and it allows them to offer the cheap volume work to insurers whilst getting the occasional big ticket instruction for London.   
 

 

Anon 29 November 21 10:23

The motivator for this deal is clearly mainly to get BLM’s regional and established network of offices because the one thing Clydes doesn’t have is a strong regional presence nationwide compared to others.  It closed one office last year, has got a small team in Bristol and another one in Manchester.  The capital investment costs of opening up new offices in new markets is unattractive and so to acquire a load of offices and people to staff them already with the work flow for low cost high volume work is exactly  what Clydes need.  They might also want some of the big ticket instructions that BLM get, but they already have a strong city offering and recognise that in this market with pressure on costs it is all about a regional offering to insurers.  If you get that right, then you get on the panels and then you get the higher value work when it comes.  

MissorMs 29 November 21 15:16

This is just hilarious. BLM is basically a claims handling sweatshop with poorly paid juniors and crazy Partners who can't organise a P*** up in a brewery and rely on the trainees to teach them the law. 

If they do merge, its likely Clydes will mop up the business and then get rid of the staff. I can see very worried lawyers at BLM jumping ship quickly so they avoid being rumbled and ending up completely out of their depth at Clydes.    

 

Be afraid 01 December 21 07:15

The photo accompanying the headline ought to have one of those large horrible bird eating spiders stalking the little birdy.  It would be far more apt.

Better still, a Great White circling an exhausted seal.

In other news, the worlds turkeys have voted resoundingly in favour of proceeding with Christmas despite the risks. 

Anonymous 01 December 21 22:17

BLM isn't a law firm; it's a claims handling shop (and not a very good one at that). Their partners aren't partners; they're call centre managers. They know this, we know this. They should have died years ago, long before they took on all that debt. A quick death is a mercy. Instead, after years of snake oil medicine (reboots and "strategies"), they're now -- at long last -- trapped in a hospice, while their nervous relatives (HSBC and Barclays) stand by their side, trying to work out if there's enough money in the firm's bank account to cover the cost of its own funeral. There will be no headstone or doves or eulogies. It will be a Co-Op funeral. 

Arry Gallison 03 December 21 14:11

BLM did ok during a period of benign bumbling stewardship but the spiral began with misplaced global ambition and stunning "focusing on the money is the wrong goal" approach.  Own goal more like it.  Even the narcissists now in charge can't turn it around but believe they will thrive and survive in Clyde, at the expense of everyone else going with them.  They probably will.  The people that get ahead in this business are so remarkably Trump like in their behaviour that they can never do anything wrong, even if 90% of the partners get de-equitised or booted out.

I mean you couldn't meet a nicer group than the small number of lawyers that have seized control of their insurance law firms and sold them to PE or others.  BLM has tried to flog itself to everyone.  Clyde are picking up the mess because they might get something for nothing, or if not, have eliminated a competitor from the endless insurance panel processes.  

Anonymous 28 January 22 16:04

Worked at both BLG and BLM so commenting (the former being a lessen for the latter, having been taken over by Clydes previously). 

BLM have been intermittently, but regularly, offloading offices and staff and there are ample comments here about the state of their finances, but I suspect the worst is yet to come. There are several offices within Clydes that are duplicated at BLM so perhaps many more offices and staff to offload? In my view, this is purely an asset stripping exercise to extract clients, and remove another insurance firm from the market and/or panel. It is not about gaining regional offices: no one wants the overheads in a post-pandemic world and hybrid working/less office space required is genuinely here to stay. 

There are many fat cat, old school, dinosaurs at BLM and they, along with their brown-nosed pets, are in for a rude awakening (oh, and the London BLM partners need not think they will be the exception here). 

Anonymous 29 January 22 13:06

I think it should properly get to the point where some of these mergers are referred to the CMA, but it never happens because the nature of the profession is all about money/profit, and a general sense of decency/fair play and ethics fell by the wayside many moons ago. 

Plus, you know, solicitors lack any sense of self regulation, save for general arse covering.

 

 

Sunday Thinking. 30 January 22 20:21

Just counted, and there are 7 offices that are duplicated between BLM and Clydes: London, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds & Manchester. More likely than not that BLM will be told to shut their offices, but they have already made a start ...

 

Debt. 31 January 22 11:32

I would have thought that even a cursory look at the level of debt BLM are carrying would be sufficient to put Clydes off from entering into this. 

More time/cost efficient to just let BLM decline alone.

No disrespect, most law firms are carrying scary levels of loans, debts etc. and so it is not surprising that young to middle age lawyers prefer non-equity i.e. not to be debt ridden. It's no longer taken as read that on paying equity out there will be any business left ... frankly, the world is spinning so fast, and sectors are rising and declining so quickly, that you can no longer guarantee your employer will last 5 years. 

 

 

Update 08 February 22 10:42

This story seems to have broken circa end of November 2021 ... is there any update at all? Surely, someone at Clydes/BLM knows the score?

No news at all would indicate any merger is stalling?

 

Restructuring 09 February 22 12:24

Worked at BLM and BLG, and the former list some inappropriate areas under professional risk. If merger/takeover goes ahead, the first thing Clydes will need to do is restructure &/ recategorise the work/teams at BLM e.g. at BLM professional risk seemed to incorporate product liability (its own department), abuse cases (should fall within injury work) and education claims (again, a stand alone area in its own right). Those sorts of areas of work are more cost effectively done outside London. I would say the pure professional risk remaining will be minimal. 

Former BLG/BLM. 16 February 22 15:02

Oh the silence is deafening ... I assume it is no go?

Either that, or Clydes need things in place before merger e.g. off-loading of offices, or staff ...

 

Anonymous 23 February 22 11:50

With the end of furlough money from the government, I think many more firms will go to the wall. 

We are now moving into a genuine crunch point.

 

Over the years, you watch law firm "strategy" and you realise that nobody has a clue as to what 

to do (it alternates between: we are down sizing in London and moving less profitable work to a

provincial base; we are closing/rationalising provincial offices; we are opening/closing offices in

Europe; we are taking over/being taken over/merging; we are opening a US/S. American/Middle

Eastern/Hong Kong etc. base; we are closing an overseas office). As I said, totally clueless. An

obvious point would be that lawyers make the mistake of thinking that they have managerial or

business development skills, or other skills beyond their narrow education/niche practice area.

All the poor decisions, u-turns, back tracking etc. proves that lawyers should stick to case work.

Basil Brush 28 February 22 18:33

BLM have introduced a new corporate tie.

In line with its pay rates, the pattern will be small checks.

Mademoiselle 02 March 22 15:43

Oh, the casual sexism! I suppose I need not ask if there is a corporate scarf (Hermès, or Chanel?).

I digress. The point is it is not a Clydes/BLM tie.

 

 

 

 

 

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