Sources have told RollOnFriday that Irwin Mitchell is in talks to merge with Thomas Eggar. However, while equity partners at Irwin Mitchell have known about the proposed tie-up for at least three weeks, the firm's staff have been kept in the dark.

    Surprise! 

The two firms are very different. While London-based Thomas Eggar employs just under 300 fee-earners and 480 staff overall, Sheffield firm Irwin Mitchell is four times the size, with over 1,000 fee-earners and around 2,000 staff. Similarly, IM's profits per equity partner of £600k dwarf TE's figure of £259k.

Irwin Mitchell has been making the news for some embarrassing slip-ups recently. First, it managed to get itself banned from Google after its digital marketing strategy backfired and appeared to the search engine as out-of-control spamming. Then this year it pissed off its support staff by outsourcing their jobs. And inevitably if the merger goes ahead, further efficiencies beckon.

Thomas Eggar refused to comment on the deal, saying that it had “a clear growth strategy"  which, "includes the potential for mergers or acquisitions". Irwin Mitchell declined to comment. So, neither denied it and so its true.
 
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Comments

Anonymous 12 November 15 22:21

They must be nuts. Irwin Mitchell is a pi firm and there will not be many Thomas Eggar clients who have not been on the wrong end of a pi letter of claim from Irwin Mitchell. Almost 20 partners have retired from the firm this year. You don't lose that many unless there is an underlying issue. Let's see whether turkeys do vote for Christmas. My money is on Thomas Eggar waking up and rejecting a merger.

Anonymous 13 November 15 08:46

who aren't they talking to? TE have spoken to half the West End and IM are in acquisition over drive!

Anonymous 13 November 15 09:08

Two firms with no idea who they are or what their strategy is, joining together in the hope of finding themselves and a clue. Wonderful. With Parabis strewn to the four winds, the golden turd is theirs for the taking.

Anonymous 13 November 15 13:56

Re: anonymous @9.08 - I think IM have a pretty good idea what they are doing. TE have been a basket case for years, so I do wonder if IM have actually spotted an opportunity to buy up the core as a rescue deal and then (ahem) make economies with the less worthwhile bits? This certainly doesn't look like a merger to me, not least as IM's cash position is very, very strong. It looks much more like a cheapo takeover as a distress purchase.

Anonymous 13 November 15 14:15

Forget Irwin Eggar - hw about Thomas Mitchell?! Sounds like a character from 'Enders - perhaps a lover child between Grant Mitchell and Well'ard?!

Anonymous 13 November 15 15:08

Agree T E must be crazy. Both partners and staff will rue the day should it materialise. Surely a marriage made in hell?

Anonymous 13 November 15 15:52

I can't think of two firms less suited for one another. TE are mad if they go ahead with this - I'm pretty certain they're not in a position of weakness as Anon @ 13:56 suggests so if the partners go for this it's with their eyes well and truly open (albeit blinded slightly by the $$$ signs).

Roll On Friday 13 November 15 17:57

Piper can't wait for this to happen...especially exciting that the NEW company, which I am assured will be called Irwin's John Thomas LLP, will almost double in size...

Anonymous 13 November 15 20:26

Merger is the wrong word - this is another acquisition (swallow up) by IM and the TE equity are surely selling their soul to the devil. That said I'm not sure the devil would sink to ambulance chasing or slip trip and fall adds during Jeremy Kyle!! Whatever may happen in the short term think giant with a poor reputation taking over a a mid sizer with a half decent one. Check out IM's reputation as an employer on this site. It's a win win for IW and a lose lose for TE staff and clients whilst the equity make a quick buck. That said other firms are already alert to the opportunity of picking up TE's client's and staff.

Anonymous 13 November 15 21:54

What a waste of money and I am surprised at the naievity. None of the clients worth picking off will be fooled by a wolf wrapping itself in the fleece of the lamb it has just slaughterered then running round the Home Counties with its pointy ears sticking out and it's sharp teeth showing saying "baaa baaa...have you been injured in an accident at work" in a deep Sheffield accent...

Anonymous 14 November 15 11:54

TE definitely need their heads read but as stated above they will be blinded by the $$$ signs. The former golden turd winners are propped up with more debt than this adds in turnover. Added to this no other firm of this size has one work type making up such a large % of its turnover. This gives IM a weak underbelly and they know it. The online antics were trying to boost their injury claims work yet the google ban affected all of their work types. They will be looking for a bolt on that at first glance appears to dilute the dependency on PI work - it is not hard to see that this is all about gearing themselves up for an IPO. This will need to happen soon as whilst they grab at what TE bring it will be like trying to hold dry sand in your fist - the sand running on to the floor will be the clients and niche lawyers who didn't sign up to be part of where this is obviously going.

Anonymous 14 November 15 13:50

Worth reading
www.rollonfriday.com/TheNews/EuropeNews/tabid/58/Id/2467/fromTab/58/currentIndex/53/Default.aspx

Anonymous 14 November 15 15:18

I can't see them going for an IPO. There is another assault on pi fees coming which is going to reduce revenue. IM is vulnerable to its biggest revenue source being attacked by those who continue to believe that ambulance chasing is out of control. Who would want to risk their money by investing in a firm facing those sorts of risks especially as the firm has tried and failed to diversify for years?
There is also a credibility issue around its management with those previously engaged in merger talks with IM being less than complimentary about the gravitas of those conducting the negotiations. Those same personalities make it difficult for IM to recruit and judging by 20 partners or so leaving every year, they can't retain those who have been at the firm for some time.
TE might merge with IM but the immediate culture clash will see its quality lawyers heading for the exit putting IM back into the position it is now. An unbalanced business with too much reliance on pi.

Roll On Friday 15 November 15 10:22

Presumably the hope for TE is that now that this has gone public (sort of) a much more suitable "merger partner" will come forward. Here's hoping.

Anonymous 15 November 15 20:40

TE must be blind, this isn't a merger, it's a takeover. It's essentially designed to hide IM's year on year reducing margins and poor costs performance across all practice areas. Lets hope TE's leadership hasn't misled its partners by falling for the promises of economies of scale benefits by joining together and the payout when the IPO goes through.

What external investor is going to miss the obvious poor leadership team, high number of partner exits, market threats which IM has failed to respond to and the obvious failure of delivering improving margins through exploiting economies of scale.

This is doomed, TE partners need to wake up and look elsewhere. Alternatively they could join IM and sink with it whilst competitors pick off clients and TE partners.

Anonymous 19 November 15 02:50

a lot of the comments made here seem to be with a lack of knowledge on the PI side. Irwin Mtichell's PI business is made up mostly of the more serious injury rather than 'ambulance chasing', plus it has a strategy of building it's business and private client services. The business has a strong equity range and it is clear that they are able to attract talented niche lawyers, following the successful acquisition of Berkeley Law. Their equity spread is big enough to accommodate a range of performing partners, but with the higher end being c£800k, the upside looks great for the high performers, with a place there for most. Thomas Eggar can rightly see the opportunity here - the regions they operate in leave it open for them to continue business as usual, but plug into a much bigger law firm offering. The overlap is in London and Southampton, and London is a continual investment for both firms. This may appear to be a pure acquisition by Irwin Mitchell, but I reckon Irwin Mitchell need and want this as much as Thomas Eggar and it is a lot more a merger of equals than people realise. Why would Thomas Eggar consider a firm right in the same pep area/similar turnover, as Victoria Brackett stated in a legal interview - the result would be 2+2=4. Look at Charles Russell Speechlys, the successful partners there are going to have to wait a long old time for their earning levels to improve with the combined investment needed. I say go for it Thomas Eggar. Don't do the obvious thing and go for the safe rescue option of one of the other more similar size regionals. This comment is probably too serious for Roll on Friday, but some of these comments seem to be made by people who have no idea of what they're talking about, so I wanted to give my view.

Anonymous 20 November 15 00:17

Hahaha the comment above is so obviously from an IM partner. Even if there are PI synergies that's not why IM want this deal. They want it to gain some credibility in the commercial services market and mask the fact they continue to fail despite massive investment in commercial lawyers. The PI division subsidises the commercial division. Always has, always will.



Anonymous 20 November 15 14:14

...or someone in the TE or IM PR team! Interesting that the evidence given that they can attract talented niche lawyers is the "acquisition" of Berkeley Law. Firstly how is an acquisition evidence that they are attracting lawyers of their own free will? Secondly who had ever heard of Berkeley Law in the first place?! They were probably hoovered up to offer advice to IM clients on how to invest ambulance chasing winnings in a tax efficient manner. They even have an accident recovery breakdown company within the IM group - why would a law firm need a breakdown service if they had the business spread of other firms?