Business of Law

Law firm poised to be UK's first to go public, hopes to raise $15M in IPO

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Updated: A midsize commercial law firm is poised to become the first in the United Kingdom to go public.

Birmingham-based Gateley announced Tuesday that it had retained Cantor Fitzgerald Europe to provide financial advice on a plan to raise as much as 10 million British pounds in an initial public offering later this year, Bloomberg reports. That would be over $15 million in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate.

Nonlawyers are permitted to invest in a law firm under the U.K.’s Legal Services Act. which was enacted in 2011. Gateley’s 81 partners plan to retain over 50 percent of the firm’s stock.

A law firm press release provides additional details.

The approximately 400-attorney firm has six British offices plus another one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Although state bar rules currently prohibit U.S. law firms from granting any ownership interest to nonlawyers, the Canadian Bar Association has recommended adopting rules equivalent to those now in effect in the U.K, the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) reports.

Australia’s Slater & Gordon became the first law firm in the world to go public, in 2007.

The personal injury firm has expanded considerably since then, and Slater & Gordon made a $947 million offer in March to acquire a major PI firm in the U.K.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?”

Last updated May 14 to add link to ABA Journal coverage.

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