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Entering London by Acquisition

Large regional law firm gains a foothold in London following an acquisition that was completed in five months. 

The Mission & Challenge 

A large regional law firm had commissioned Ortus to assist them in gaining a foothold in London via an acquisition of a strong and well-suited firm after a tedious two year journey that did not progress further than unsuccessful negotiations with several firms. 

The objective of the acquisition was to enable key practice areas to expand, making it easier to recruit key laterals to supplement specialisms and access international work with greater value through the London platform. 

This ambition presented a number of formidable challenges as London is a huge market with thousands of law firms. The task of finding and engaging with the best, most well-suited firms was formidable and required a team with a robust network and strong experience. 

How Ortus Group Approached this Successfully 

To help this regional law firm worth more than £20 million achieve their objectives within 5 months, Ortus began to intensively research the London market around key areas of specialism and identify the suitable opportunities for acquisition.

Following this, the team approached the managing partners for each firm to discuss their strategic plans for the future, ambitions and insecurities with a view to finding reciprocal opportunities by introducing the client.

Having whittled the shortlist down from 19 firms to 2, the team began due diligence and chaired meetings between the parties to swiftly move from concept to reality. 

This resulted in the pairing of the buyer, a £20m+ regional law firm (Ortus Client) with the seller that was a £3m west-end firm over 200 years old with complementary practice areas and succession challenges. 

Heads of terms were agreed with one of these firms within 6 weeks of the first meeting and deeper due diligence commenced prior to a deal completing.  At this juncture, challenges included managing egos, insecurities, conflicting interests among the partners within the selling firm and managing expectations throughout. 

To better align the acquisition with the original vision of our client, Ortus also identified the structural weaknesses of the firm being acquired and conducted three executive search projects to bring in partners to run departments that required successors. 

The End Result

An acquisition completed 5 months after instruction which moved the client into the top 100 firms at the time. 

This gave the former owners the exit strategy they wanted while providing the acquirer the strategic advantages it had sought for years. The turnover of the firm acquired plus the client following of the partners recruited via executive search added nearly £5m to their turnover in just one year.