A round up of news from the region’s legal sector in the past week
* Expansion on the cards for De Marco
A legal eagle is spreading her wings by launching a new specialist law firm in the region.
Sandra Garlick is building on the success of employment law and business affairs firm De Marco Solicitors, which she founded in 2007, by expanding into family law.
Ms Garlick has joined forces with local family law specialist Dave Lee to establish De Marco Family Law Solicitors from the Middlemarch Business Park in Baginton.
Their routes into the legal profession are mirrored with both having worked in other professions before moving into law.
Ms Garlick worked in various sales and marketing roles before going to college after having children to gain A-level equivalents to enable her to study for a law degree from the University of Warwick.
She founded De Marco Solicitors from her spare bedroom and now heads up one of the largest employment teams in the Coventry and Warwickshire area.
Mr Lee, who lives in Crick, near Rugby, was an accountant before a role with a firm of solicitors inspired him to re-train and qualify as a solicitor.
His speciality evolved whilst working for practices throughout Coventry and Warwickshire and in recent years he has focused on developing his advocacy skills. He now has more than 20 years’ experience in family law and litigation matters.
* City firm advises £30m deal
DLA Piper has advised 2 Sisters Food Group on its £30 million agreement to acquire the Brookes Avana businesses from Premier Foods.
The agreement, which was announced on December 8, will be made on a cash and debt free basis.
It includes the purchase of the three Brookes Avana sites at Newport (RF Brookes and Avana Bakeries) and Leicester (RF Brookes).
The deal was led by Noel Haywood, corporate partner in DLA Piper’s Birmingham office, along with Nigel Cooke, associate, and Jonathan Crowley, solicitor.
“2 Sisters is now a major diversified UK and European food company which provides food for every eating occasion,” said Mr Haywood. “During one of the most challenging economic periods in memory, 2 Sisters has continued to grow organically and by making strategic acquisitions.
“We are delighted to have worked with the 2 Sisters team on this transaction.”
Saeeda Amin, head of corporate finance for 2 Sisters Group said: “The acquisition of Brookes Avana is an excellent strategic fit for 2 Sisters. Following completion, we will focus on delivering future growth opportunities and enhancing the performance of the business.
“DLA provided strong support to 2 Sisters in what was a short timescale to complete this acquisition.
“They were reliable, experts in their field and helped us to deliver the deal which will help us to continue growing our business.”
* Three new faces at Forresters
A Birmingham-based firm of intellectual property specialists has appointed three people to the post of senior associates.
Emma Johnson, Christopher Bond and Charlotte Dale have all been made senior associates at Forresters, who have offices in the city centre.
Ms Johnson, aged 31, from Wolverhampton, has been with Forresters for six years, working in the areas of patents and designs. She deals with a broad range of technologies and works both in the UK and overseas.
Twenty-nine-year old Mr Bond, who lives in Surrey, has worked at Forresters since completing his degree at Oxford University in 2005. He works in the prosecution and drafting of patents in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and biotech. A member of The Royal Society of Chemistry, he has assisted clients in the UK and Europe in respect of design, copyright and trademark law.
Having gained an MSc in the management of intellectual property, Ms Dale, aged 28, who lives in Hertfordshire, has been part of the Forresters team for five years. She has specialised in all aspects of patent law, and is involved in the drafting and prosecution of patent applications in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical services.
* Barrister shortlisted for prize
John Randall QC of St Philips Barristers Chambers, Birmingham, was one of the finalists in the prestigious ‘Inner Temple Book Prize’ 2011.
The Prize, established in 2008 as part of the Inner Temple’s celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the grant by King James I of the Temple’s Royal Charter, is for books published in the English language which make an outstanding scholarly contribution to the understanding of the law as administered in England and Wales.
Mr Randall co-wrote the book The Tort of Conversion with Sarah Green, an academic now at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Their work was chosen from over a hundred entries as one of the finalists for the main prize in this triennial competition.
The judging panel, chaired by the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, also included two Supreme Court Judges, four Lords Justices of Appeal, a former president of the International Court of Justice, and professors of law from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
At the awards ceremony Mr Randall and the other finalists were each presented with an engraved glass book by HRH The Princess Royal. The winner of the £10,000 main prize was Professor Halliday of Harvard University, for his book on Habeas Corpus.
Mr Randall, chairman of the commercial practice group at St Philips Barristers Chambers, said: “I was very honoured to be a finalist in this prestigious award. The judging panel was of an extraordinarily high calibre, and the overall winner was a most deserving book. The fact that all four of the other finalists were works published in England is a testament to the high standard of legal writing in this country.”
* Firm’s work-life balance praised
Anthony Collins Solicitors have been ranked third in the UK for work-life balance according to the Lex100 student guide.
The Lex100 is a comparative guide to the leading UK law firms and is a reference source for all those considering a career in law.
More than 2,400 trainees were surveyed from law firms across the UK on areas such as job satisfaction, quality of work, working environment and client contact.
Trainees at Anthony Collins said they chose the firm over others because of its “excellent client care” and because the firm ‘has a social conscience and is actually prepared to do something about it.’
The best things about the firm were; ‘the chance to do high-level commercial work in one seat and publicly-funded private client work in another’, ‘work/life balance’ and ‘the approachability of senior colleagues, including partners.’
Trainees also ranked Anthony Collins in the top 20 law firms for ‘stress-free’ environment.
Catherine Sobolewska, head of HR and office services at Anthony Collins said, “It’s great to receive such positive feedback from our trainees. At Anthony Collins Solicitors we aspire to make a difference to society and we place a real emphasis on an ethical and socially-responsible working attitude, which means that our staff and trainees have the chance to work with genuinely inspiring clients in a relaxed and happy working environment – it’s rewarding to know that we’re achieving this as a firm.”
* Lawyers learn to spot a liar
Opus Performance has trained 60 members of Birmingham City Council’s legal team at an event called “How To Spot A Liar”.
The event, at Aston University Birmingham, included an interactive presentation on the behavioural science of detecting lies and deceit, the Birmingham lawyers learnt tips and tactics to help them identify when someone is not telling the truth.
Mike Drayton explained that many common myths about how to spot liars are in fact misleading, including the belief that people lying do not look someone in the eye. He said: “Businesses lose millions of pounds a year because of fraud, lying and deception. Getting some training in the art of lie spotting will lead to massive savings in the long run.”
The aim of the training provided by Opus Performance is to help organisations save money by identifying fraud, lying and deception.
* Researchers target legal firms
Business Birmingham, the city’s inward investment programme, is targeting key decision makes in the legal profession as part of a drive to increase its focus on this fast-growing sector in 2012.
The survey aims to gauge issues and challenges faced by the legal sector, ranging from opinions on the Legal Services Act to how firms propose to tackle any financial pressures they may be facing.
By taking part in the survey, the region’s law practitioners will be able to influence the activity of Business Birmingham, which will be focusing more heavily on the legal sector in 2012.
Marek Dobrowolski, investment manager at Business Birmingham, said there was postential for growth in the sector.
He said: “We have received an increasing number of enquiries from law firms from across the UK that are interested in moving some functions to Birmingham. The legal sector has undergone a significant level of consolidation in the past 12 months with several mergers and acquisitions, which has led to firms considering how to make their back office more efficient and cost-effective.”
The survey about legal process outsourcing can be found on Business Birmingham’s website: http://businessbirmingham.com/sectors/ssc-bpo
* Law Society hosts conference
Birmingham Law Society is holding a conference entitled “Planning For Change” next month.
The conference, on on January 26 2012, is aimed at all law firms working through how to respond to changes to the legal sector with the advent of ABSs and changes to funding of legal services.
Anyone interested in attending should contact Glenda Rogers via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 0121 222 4193.