Fieldfisher advises on first major UK law firm's move to employee ownership
Social justice-focused firm Hodge Jones & Allen has become the first to be entirely owned by its employees after its founder and other equity partners agreed to sell the business to an employee ownership trust.
European law firm Fieldfisher advised London-headquartered Hodge Jones & Allen on the conversion of the firm's equity partnership model to an employee ownership trust (EOT).
The successful transfer of ownership was the latest in a series of employee-ownership mandates which Fieldfisher has advised on. Led by Fieldfisher partner Graeme Nuttall OBE, Hodge Jones & Allen is the eleventh business Fieldfisher has helped convert to EO this year.
Hodge Jones & Allen was founded over 40 years ago to offer legal services to those in need and to provide access to justice.
The firm, which has an annual turnover in excess of £17 million, has represented victims in many high profile cases including the Grenfell fire, The Kings Cross fire and the Marchioness ferry disaster. The firm also represented Neville Lawrence, the father of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack.
The EOT adopted by Hodge Jones & Allen is a similar model to that of John Lewis, in that it enables all of its 230 employees to become beneficiaries of the firm.
Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors Limited will trade and run in the same way as Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors LLP, but 100 per cent of the shares of the new limited company will be owned by the Trust rather than the current members of the LLP.
Senior Partner and majority owner Patrick Allen will act as trustee, with Managing Partner Vidisha Joshi and Kingsley Tedder becoming independent external trustees for corporate governance and compliance.
Graeme Nuttall OBE, Fieldfisher partner, tax and structuring, commented:
"It was an honour to be instructed by Hodge Jones & Allen on their transition from a traditional equity model to an EOT – the first move of its kind by a major UK law firm.
"Fieldfisher has gained a reputation as the leading firm in this area and I am delighted that we had the opportunity to work with another law firm on this, as the benefits of EO business models continue to be recognised by more and more businesses and sectors.
"I would like to wish Patrick, Vidisha and their team the best of luck for the future as an EOT."
Vidisha Joshi, managing partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said:
"Having Fieldfisher on hand to advise us through the transaction was invaluable.
"Graeme and his team have considerable expertise and were able to navigate through what was a fairly complex transition with ease. It is clear that their reputation as leaders in the field is well deserved."
Patrick Allen, senior partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said:
“Becoming employee owned reflects the people-first entrepreneurial spirit that has been the backbone of HJA since 1977. It provides continuity for our partners and staff, and therefore our clients. It is the perfect model for a firm like ours.
“I wanted to ensure that the firm could continue to grow in the same way as I intended when I founded it over 40 years ago. We have a fantastic team and we help people who may not always be able to access advice and redress. I see this as a way in which my vision can go forward and thrive into the future.”
Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said:
“We congratulate Hodge Jones Allen on its transition to 100% employee ownership.
“This is a pioneering move in the legal sector, at a time when many similar partnerships are challenged by the succession dilemma of securing the future of an LLP-structured firm. By widening ownership of the business to all of its employees via an EOT, Hodge Jones Allen is securing the future of the business, including its ethos and values, whilst engaging all employees in its vision and future success."
Fieldfisher is a European law firm with market leading practices in many of the world's most dynamic sectors. We are an exciting, forward-thinking organisation with a particular focus on energy & natural resources, technology, finance & financial services, life sciences and media.
Our network has more than 1,450 people working across 24 offices providing highly commercial advice based on an in-depth understanding of our clients' needs.
We operate across our offices in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Belfast, Birmingham, Bologna, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, Turin, Venice and Silicon Valley.
Fieldfisher is currently Law Firm of the Year - Legal Business Awards 2018.