Interview with: Adrian Jaggard, CEO

Taylor Rose MW | View firm profile

Adrian Jaggard is CEO of Taylor Rose MW.
T: 020 7400 7764
E: info@taylor-rose.co.uk

Taylor Rose TTKW acquired McMillan Williams in May this year – what were some of the challenges involved in completing the deal during the height of lockdown?

We had been focussed on MW for around nine months, making an initial approach to their board and subsequently to their investors, declaring our interest to merge with or acquire them.

Like most firms, 2020 has been a tough year for TR and MW as demand for our services has fluctuated from one extreme to another. We both had a strong start, gaining momentum through until March, before a dramatic decline in April and May. These extremes made our M&A discussions very difficult, but we finally completed the MW deal in May with their administrators, in fullest the depths of our Covid-19 impact.

As we drew closer to completion we were fighting fit and gained the confidence to proceed. The timing ensured a lack of competitor interest and in the end, the market turned a corner shortly thereafter.

What were the factors that made the tie-up particularly attractive?

Our starting point for M&A targets is always to look for good quality lawyers and clients. MW had both in abundance and that underlying quality had been somehow overshadowed by the mostly negative press coverage that they had been subject to. We were convinced from an early stage that their poor financials and reported personnel issues could be turned around by the right decisions.

Both TR and MW have a high proportion of property work in their services, this enabled us to understand much of MW quickly. Using our own experience and assumptions, we were able to confidently model a combined entity, identifying synergies and savings.

MW had invested heavily in various resources, particularly their case management systems. The resulting capability was market-leading and significantly ahead of our own, we were therefore keen to expand the benefit of their systems to TR as a whole.

How will this combination help to set you apart from competitors in your key markets?

We are firmly positioned in the consumer/SME corporate legal services space and believe that a great deal of opportunity exists in our market segment. We have established ourselves as one of the larger consolidator firms, with strong BD capability and a thriving consultant solicitor programme. As we enter 2021, we have a unified firm and systems that are well-invested and market-leading.

How have the two firms been getting to know each other over recent months?

Considering the circumstances, pretty well I think. Whilst we have not had the same opportunities for teams to meet as we would have in the past, we have done what we can. We prioritised the selection and appointment of all key roles very early on, with most holding responsibilities across TR & MW brands. Once we had made key appointments, we embarked on a programme of getting managers integrated into their new teams and we feel comfortable with the progress that we have made.

The combined firm is now in the top 75 largest law firms in the UK by turnover – how does that scale help you provide an effective service to clients?

With a narrow ownership structure, we have always been able to re-invest profits at a greater rate than most firms. We continue with this philosophy, but with an increasingly larger investment capability. We have significantly increased our investment and personnel in IT, Finance, HR, Risk and Audit. We have monitored and understood our clients perception of our services for several years and constantly develop ways to improve it. We are proud of our high rankings on Google, Trustpilot, Review Solicitors and Yell (TR and MW). All of these work towards a stronger client proposition.

How do you see the business of consumer law adapting to the ongoing restrictions and developing for the future?

We believe that the current consolidation of consumer legal services is gathering pace. A succession of legislative changes have placed increasing pressure on smaller firms, with further events on the horizon. There is evidence that some larger specialist firms are trying to broaden their service offering, with the market polarising into large corporate firms and consumer/SME corporate firms, with most of the M&A activity being in the latter segment. There are more ‘consolidators’ that are increasingly backed by TP investment, all looking to increase market share.

As one of the largest property firms and consultant firms, our share is still very small when you consider the entire market. If the consolidation gathers pace as predicted, it could be transformational with some big winners.

When I announced our acquisition of MW on LinkedIn, someone (I didn’t know) congratulated me, pointing out that the trophy of the UK’s first legal brand is still out there for one of us. Those words have stuck with me.

Tell us a little about the firm’s consultant solicitor programme – how do you see that developing?

Whilst we are one of the leading consultant firms, we are not a virtual firm and do not intend to become one. Our market position, alongside our hybrid employed/consultant lawyer structure means that we are in a unique position to service large or high volume client contracts.

We have seen our number of consultant lawyers doubling year on year for the last few years, with the number of new consultants joining us in 2020 increasing further. Flexibility is the key. We attribute this years acceleration to the effect of Covid-19, as many adapt to homeworking.

Looking forwards, we see the changes so far as the start of something big. We project a continued shift towards consultant roles across legal services, gaining momentum for the next couple of years. We plan to remain on the leading edge of this market transition, maintaining our hybrid proposition and re-investment commitment.

What’s next on the agenda for the combined firm?

As of the 1st Feb 2021, we will be consolidating the two brands, McMillan Williams Solicitors and Taylor Rose TTKW, into one – Taylor Rose MW. The firm’s decision to bring together the combined brand equity as Taylor Rose MW is the next step in our growth strategy. Unifying our two brands as Taylor Rose MW is fundamental to become a leading player in the UK consumer law market. Together, as Taylor Rose MW, our clients will receive the best of both worlds, where great value is placed upon providing a high-quality service.