Top 60 UK law firm Taylor Rose MW is eyeing a 2022 float, its boss says, as an “arms race” continues in the legal sector.
An initial public offering is “an active consideration” for the firm, chief executive Adrian Jaggard told Financial News.
“We are actively looking at third-party investment to continue our growth journey,” he said. “To continue that journey, or to do it justice, we are looking at our options in terms of investment. The obvious is debt or equity, both are under consideration at the moment and that includes an IPO.”
Jaggard said the firm was looking for investment within the next 12 months, and said it was a “possibility” that the firm could be publicly traded by this time next year.
Taylor Rose is being advised by broker Arden Partners, which acted on the float of law firm Ince in 2017. It is also working with financial public relations agency SEC Newgate, which boasts of its “award-winning capital markets team” on its website.
Consumer law firm Taylor Rose snapped up struggling rival McMillan Williams in May 2020 in a pre-pack administration deal.
Jaggard said the firm generated revenue of £70m and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation “north of £8m” in the year ended 30 September.
That revenue figure would have put the firm within the top 60 largest law firms in the UK last year, according to The Lawyer magazine’s rankings for 2019-20.
The firm has around 500 employees and 350 fee-earning consultants, a spokesperson said.
Its consultants are self-employed lawyers who retain an average of 70% of their billings, with the remainder taken by the firm. The firm said its consultants division had more than doubled its headcount in the last year and was increasing that number by 15-20 lawyers per month.
The move comes as law firms across the City eye up going public in a bid to expand in a fiercely competitive market. Up to a third of law firms are considering floating in the next 12-18 months, according to a recent survey from litigation funder Harbour.
London litigation powerhouse Mishcon de Reya said in April that it had appointed JPMorgan to advise on a float that could value the firm at up to £750m.
Personal injury firm Irwin Mitchell is also working on a listing with Rothschild, according to Sky News, that could value the firm at £500m.
A spokesperson for Irwin Mitchell said: “We have taken no decision to introduce external investment and our balance sheet remains strong.”
The listed legal model in England is still a nascent one, with Birmingham-headquartered firm Gateley’s 2015 float the first in the sector after the Legal Services Act 2007 allowed non-lawyer ownership of law firms in England and Wales for the first time.
Keystone, Knights, Rosenblatt, Ince and DWF have all since floated in London.
Jaggard said part of the rationale for the firm seeking outside funding was to invest in technology.
“There is an arms race going on with technology and systems,” he said. “There is a lot of opportunity to improve efficiency, improve risk control and improve interfaces and communications with the clients.”
“When clients are dealing with their lawyer, they are not benchmarking us against other lawyers, they are benchmarking us against interfaces with banks, insurers and customer services from John Lewis. There is an opportunity for us as an industry to up our game there,” he added.
Jaggard said the firm was also looking to grow through mergers and acquisitions and said the firm was in “early stage talks with one or two firms”.