It is always interesting to see how a project you are working on is reported in the press. In recent legal press it was reported that Matthew Arnold and Baldwin LLP (MAB) “Shuts its door” with the suggestion that Partners and their teams were fleeing as quickly as possible in different directions.

As ever, it wasn’t quite as exciting as some of the report headlines suggested with the business separation occurring along logical legal service lines with the Banking and Finance division joining Dentons, Wealth Management plus one IP/IT Partner joining Hill Dickinson  (HD) with the rest joining Veale Wasbrough Vizards (VWV). As the business was separating in three ways, none of the firms which the respective service lines were joining were able to take over the MAB LLP entity and so none are successor practices. This added a level of complexity in terms of residual needs, in order to run down the LLP, not normally seen in law firm transactions.

To further complicate the project Dentons, VWV and MAB LLP are going to be sharing MAB’s existing Watford office until such a time Dentons & VWV can operate from their respective new Watford premises. A key aspect of the project was therefore the ability to close the business on Friday and re-open on Monday operating on three separate networks. All on different PC builds and Server Architecture within the historical MAB environment.

This was a complex and technically challenging project. MAB engaged David from Baskerville Drummond to advise and to lead on the IT aspects of the business separation and subsequent mergers.

The key aspects of our engagement were: –

  1. To undertake the role of MAB IT lead for all aspects of the project working with Dentons, VWV and HD to ensure as seamless a transition as possible.
  2. To identify the systems / information which needed to be transitioned to the parties which the respective service lines were joining and then create the plan to perform the required transition.
  3. Liaise with MAB’s key solution providers (Aderant, Thompson Reuters MatterSphere, Bighand, Accudebt) to determine how to provide the required data and to transition licences.
  4. In particular working with the Thompson Reuters team to split the MAB MatterSphere database and provide Dentons & VWV with new installations.
  5. To advise Dentons, VWV and HD of system requirements and to define what was needed by the MAB staff.
  6. To Chair multi-party IT & Operations meetings to ensure common understanding of approaches and agreement of plans.
  7. To work with MAB’s existing IT service provider Mirus IT to define how the building separation would work to enable Dentons and VWV to reside in the existing MAB Offices on a temporary basis by using the MAB infrastructure but on completely separate physical networks.
  8. To define the process and to work with Mirus IT to create routines to extract all user documents, emails, shared network folders and matter related documents and ensure they were provided to the correct merger firm.
  9. Working with Alan Harrold (MAB Finance Systems lead) and Bryan Fred of Unitek Systems, we undertook a three-way financial data conversion.
    • Aderant → Elite
    • Aderant → Galaxy
    • Aderant → Aderant.
  10. To define the process and work with Mirus IT to ensure that on go-live weekend all PC’s were re-imaged with a merger firm specific build, segregate the network and undertake the required data extractions.

The project go-live weekend went very smoothly with data dispatched at 10am on Saturday and all three parties operational from Monday.

David brought a cohesion to a project with many complexities. His calm manner meant that decisions were taken in a controlled and decisive fashion and he explained why (and why not!) things needed to happen (or should not happen) in a particular way and clearly, to non-technical lawyers.

His involvement took away the day to day worries of what is an integral component of any transaction. In short David turned a major area of concern for the MAB project team into a cohesive understanding for all parties.

To be able to work on MAB LLP business until 2pm on Friday and then return to your desk on Monday and to then be able to logon to your new firm’s systems and start work is a testament to all the people involved but this could not have been done without David’s expertise.

To do this for one firm would have been good but to do it for three plus the staff remaining to administer the closure of MAB LLP is very impressive.”

Richard Phillips, Partner, VWV (formally Partner responsible for IT a MAB LLP)

At Baskerville Drummond we have significant experience of Law Firm demerger projects having previously been involved in the formation of SGI Legal LLP following the breakaway of Kirwan Solicitors PI department.  David also has experience of post-merger turn-a-round projects and advised SGHM on their merger with Shakespeares.