Firm Profile > BLM > Bristol, England


Personal injury: defendant Tier 2

BLM acts for insurances in respect of injury claims involving chronic pain, brain injuries, traumata, paralysis as well as upper and lower limb amputations arising from road traffic accidents, fire, animal escaping and accidents in the agricultural sector. Rebecca Shafto also deals with cases involving injuries and diseases caused by the consumption of legal and illegal drugs. The firm also deals with infant claimants.

Key clients



Ecclesiastical Insurance Group

Gallagher Bassett

North Somerset Council


First Port


Shipping Tier 2

BLM in Bristol predominantly focuses on marine insurance work, with a larger focus on so-called 'wet' shipping matters; this area is split relatively equally between injury and non-injury work. Team head Gemma Pearce, who is dual-qualified as a solicitor and as a barrister, has 18 years of experience of the sector. The work includes matters involving charter parties, bills of lading, the supply and carriage of goods, cargo, and passenger and crew claims. Policy coverage disputes are another area of strength.

BLM is an ambitious business and seen as one of the largest and most expert suppliers to the UK legal insurance market. The firm has made considerable progress through key strategic appointments and hires, growth of our international offering and operational improvements through investments in areas such as data analytics and technology.

The firm is focused on driving its business towards its vision to be the leader in its chosen markets of insurance and commerce.

BLM’s purpose is to have a positive impact upon its clients’ businesses.  Fundamentally, it is helping them to reduce the time and money they spend on managing risk and resolving disputes.  Described in client surveys and legal directories as a firm with “its finger on the pulse of the market” and as a “technical powerhouse”, it presently represents 18 of the top 20 UK insurers, and many corporate clients, both in the UK and worldwide

The firm’s ambition to diversify led to the creation of a commercial advisory and private wealth business stream in 2017, which added to the breadth of services and expertise available to BLM clients in the UK and beyond.

BLM has an existing strong remit of international work and contacts, representing UK companies operating abroad, acting for a breadth of international organisations and handling high profile multijurisdictional cases.  In 2017 the firm created, along with several other founder members, Global Insurance Law Connect; a network which comprises like-minded risk and insurance law businesses. Global Insurance Law Connect comprises specialist insurance lawyers across more classes of business in more countries than many other similar networks. Global Insurance Law Connect was inspired by client demand and was established to support clients to confidently receive solutions to insurance and legal challenges around the globe.

The firm offers clients the best of both worlds: the experience of an established law firm, and the smart solutions of innovative technology and consultancy services.   A key aspect of BLM’s strategic ambition is to provide an innovative offering around its advanced analytics capability. The firm’s partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science empowered it to grow this capability, developing prediction models to guide BLM’s advice to clients, as well as more sophisticated approaches to value litigation risk, improve decision-making and better manage portfolios of litigation risk. BLM Innovations, which the firm launched in 2019, comprises seven tools combining cutting-edge case management, communication and analytics tools to improve client outcomes and help with their business challenges.

The firm also launched consultancy offering, BLM Consult in 2019. The BLM Consult team has been created from a combination of lawyers, change consultants and lean practitioners, from a wide range of industry sectors who can work collaboratively with clients to help their own change journeys.

BLM’s team of over 200 partners and more than 900 legal specialists, focused upon the insurance and risk and commercial markets, is recognised for having the capability, creativity and energy to provide the right support to clients in a rapidly changing environment.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Matthew Harrington
Managing partner Vivienne Williams
Belfast Cormac Fitzpatrick
Birmingham James Harvey
Bristol Joe Wakeford
Cardiff Kerris Dale
Derry Cormac Fitzpatrick
Dublin Gavin Campbell
Edinburgh Ian Leach
Glasgow Frank Hughes
Leeds Henry Kirkup
Liverpool Joanne Francis
London Paula Jefferson
Manchester Luisa Lamb
Southampton Joe Wakeford
Global insurance law network Jim Sherwood
Photo Name Position Profile
 Andrew Lawson  photo Andrew Lawson
 Gemma Pearce  photo Gemma Pearce
Number of UK partners : 203
Number of other UK fee-earners : 907
Total staff : 1494

The Lex 100 Verdict

'Highly-specialised' BLM's 'expertise in the insurance market' impressed many trainees, as did the breadth of practice areas on offer. The national firm has an 'ambitious plan moving forward' and 'aspires to become the leading insurance and risk law specialist by 2020'. BLM 'demands plenty from its trainees but is also considerate that they have other interests outside of work'. As a result, the 'hours are much more liveable' than at some larger firms and the 'atmosphere is more relaxed'. The work/life balance was applauded: 'I rarely stay at work later than 5:45pm' said one respondent; the firm has accordingly earned a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. Colleagues are friendly and approachable and, as expressed by one recruit, 'I look up to them as the type of solicitor or partner I'd like to be in the future'. There is occasional 'dull admin work' and workloads can range from 'exceptionally busy to very quiet'. Yet, encouragingly, 'trainees are also entrusted with important work from the very beginning' and are definitely 'not just left to do administrative tasks'. Examples of exciting work which stood out for trainees were 'settling a case the week before trial, having materially contributed to putting us into the best negotiating position possible' and 'attending court and doing my own advocacy'. This is proof that trainees really are 'treated like NQ solicitors from the start'. Grumbles were few and far between but some recruits felt that the salary was 'a bit low when compared to other firms doing similar work'. To work for a firm which will give you 'a great deal of responsibility early on' where trainees are deeply valued, apply to BLM.