100 roles at Shulmans law firm in Leeds have been put at risk of redundancy due to Knights Group purchasing the firm. 

Regional firm Knights Group has been on a spending spree, purchasing ASB Law in Maidstone for around £8.5 million and acquiring Shulmans for a price of up to £20.1 million. David Beech CEO of Knights said that Shulmans "has a strong cultural fit with Knights and provides an exciting platform for growth in Leeds." Knights also said in a press release that the acquisition of Shulmans "increases Knights' footprint...in line with the Group's strategy to accelerate its organic growth through carefully targeted acquisitions."

However, a source told RollOnFriday that an omission from Knights' proud press release was that "all support staff in the Shulmans office have just been put on notice and could all be made redundant." As a result, "over 100 people" at Shulmans could lose their jobs. The source added "funnily enough there has been no comment from Shulmans or Knights on this."

Knights fight

Knights going for a cull

A spokeswoman for Knights told RollOnFriday "as with any acquisition, there are synergies in integrating Shulmans into Knights, especially in light of the investments we made in our operational backbone in 2019, including support staff, as we prepared to scale." i.e. business-speak for a strong hint that some P45s will be on their way.

Tip Off ROF


Fraser Brown 13 March 20 08:35

And that’s going to happen to the staff at Fraser Brown too.  All secretaries will be made redundant and 90% of all other support staff will go.  That’s their model. 

Silly me 13 March 20 08:40

I didn’t know organic growth could be achieved through takeovers. I thought it meant something entirely different.  Or is it all gobbledegook management speak bull*hit?

Questionable business model 13 March 20 09:05

At Knights the guys without the client relationships hold all the shares.  The guys with the client relationships have few if any shares.  So if competitors successfully target the guys with the client relationships, what value is left for the investors?  

DWF and Gateley have tied in the guys with the client relationships so seem to be a smarter and safer investment.  The fundamental principles of investing seem to be against Knights.  The wheels could come off through the aggressive targeting of its key people and the loss of significant revenue. 
Add in the coronavirus risk facing all professional services firms and it doesn’t seem like a sensible investment decision to invest in Knights or any of the listed law firms for that matter. 

Anonymous 13 March 20 09:42

The Knights expansion demonstrates the undiluted bollocks Partners talk about putting their teams and clients first. Most (if not all) of these firms have had offers from others that would have been better for their teams and clients and they turned them down as it would involve deferring the lump sum payments for a couple of years. This is a grubby little cash crab that sells so many down the road in a difficult economy. Shulmans and Croftons are the worst offenders here! Absolute shits! 

Hergen 13 March 20 12:43

"as with any acquisition, there are synergies in integrating Shulmans into Knights, especially in light of the investments we made in our operational backbone in 2019, including support staff, as we prepared to scale".

This really is a masterpiece of meaningless corporate drivel. Why can't companies be upfront with things like this? 100 or so staff having to go home and break the news means it's hardly a state secret.

The Dark Knight 13 March 20 13:30

Perhaps one of the most toxic law firms I have encountered. Their business model is designed so that solicitors are working independently without secretary/admin support. As a result of each takeover...merger...whatever you want to call it, the support functions always face redundancy. It is a bizarre business model in that no partner is holding equity, but they have the client relationship, with the CEO et al creaming the profits.  My hunch is that the wheels are going to fall off once the CEO stands down, partners will take their clients' elsewhere. 


Anonymous 13 March 20 13:38

“Investment in our operational backbone”, but not at Shulmans, unless you count redundancy payments.

Anonymous 13 March 20 18:05

Interesting viewing on the Shulmans careers page. Wonder if any of the ‘backbone support staff’ in that video are going to survive this ‘organic growth through takeover’.

Anonymous 13 March 20 18:06

Well said Anonymous 09:42. People at Shulmans (and the other firms bought by Knights) weren't even told in advance. Getting bought by Knights is bad news for everyone other than a tiny number of senior equity partners, who have sold their people down the river.

#richpartnersupportgroup 13 March 20 18:57

Pondering on how those 100 redundant people will find work in a job market reacting to coronavirus. 

Toe nail 13 March 20 19:36

Same at ASB - all support staff put on notice. Called in to a room and given the news.....A firm on the brink of collapse snapped up for peanuts after no other firm in the SE would touch it.... 

Toe nail 13 March 20 19:36

Same at ASB - all support staff put on notice. Called in to a room and given the news.....A firm on the brink of collapse snapped up for peanuts after no other firm in the SE would touch it.... 

Incredulous 14 March 20 05:05

If it’s true that those with the clients don’t have any equity then this is a high risk investment and one to be avoided.  All of the value in this business could walk out of the door over-night.  Check your pension funds haven’t jumped into this one folks!

Anonymous 14 March 20 08:58

Why does the majority of their marketing focus on their CEO?  His face is on everything they put into the press.  It seems to be more about him than the business.  It all looks a bit weird and controlling.  

Durr 14 March 20 12:13

Whoever wrote that organic growth c*ap is an idiot who doesn’t know what organic growth is.  Note to Knights, don’t let idiots write your press or you end up looking very stupid. 

SecularJurist 14 March 20 22:01

Very shabby. Perhaps the new operation should be called Sharp. Takeovers and consolidations because 'big is beautiful' seem to be the legal pandemic version of Covid-19. 

Anon 15 March 20 08:54

Interesting move from Shulmans. Those who benefit from the sale have sold their people down the river and accepted a buy out from a firm with a clearly aggressive culture without any thought for its people who will be let go, or those remaining in a firm which is nothing like the one they joined. Goes to show the difference a bit of money makes...

Anonymous 17 March 20 04:37

I shudder when I see what Knights are doing to the industry. They buy up firms, offer the “dream”, then rip the heart & soul out of the practice. Very aggressive once takeover has been completed & this so called “synergy” & “organic growth” is bull shit. They want lawyers who are robots who do the job of the lawyer, secretary, accounts & pot washer in one. Let’s see where Knights are in 5 years when their CEO has moved on & the money dries up. 

Greed 18 March 20 05:51

When Knights buys, the first thing it does is make mass redundancies.  All secretaries are made redundant and most of the other support staff will be made redundant too.  They keep that quiet until the deal completes.
After that the Knights CEO and his drones descend and the David Brent style management commences.  Partners then start leaving with their clients because they won’t put up with the toxic regime and the drive to please investors through sacrificing client service/everything else.  Those who have taken the buy out money have to see out their lock in periods or they do a deal and leave early because they just can’t stand it.  Just look at what’s happened/is happening in Oxford.  It’s a shame those thinking of selling and the Knights investors for that matter fail to focus on partner and client departures. It’s a shame that loyal people are sold down the river by a small group of money obsessed partners who don’t even hold the client relationships.  Most who have taken the money and are still there regret it and can’t wait until they can leave.  Knights will be a very different place in a couple of years time when the sellers leave and move their businesses elsewhere.  Knights is a time bomb investment. 

Anonymous 18 March 20 12:09

How lovely.  We move towards a recession and lots of expected loss of life, so the sign of admirable management is to throw people out and bankrupt them.  Must go and order my new car

Anon 18 March 20 16:19

Knights contribution to date is seeking to expedite the redundancy process in Leeds “to bring certainty to those at risk”. Those at risk might prefer the certainty of employment rather than seeking new jobs as the world burns. 

That said don’t blame a parasite for sucking the life blood of a once proud and honourable firm. It’s what parasites do, and they don’t hide from it. Look instead to the willing partners who were eager to throw their loyal staff on to the pyre whilst they hide away counting their pieces of silver. 

David Beech 19 March 20 14:50

A firm of mediocre lawyers buying other less successful firms of mediocre lawyers in a desperate attempt to justify their position and share price to idiot shareholders.

Wheels will certainly fall off....just hope the few equity stakeholders end up facing the music and don’t cash in before they do

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