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21 April, 2020 - 12:02 By Tony Quested

Assured move as Birketts agrees merger with City slickers

Law firm Birketts, with offices in Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Chelmsford, is adding London and the globally lucrative insurance market to its proposition through an April 30 merger with boutique City practice EC3 Legal.

Global insurance premiums have passed the $5 trillion mark for the first time – equivalent to more than six per cent of world gross domestic product – so this is a key strategic move by Birketts, itself a UK Top 100 firm.

Birketts CEO Jonathan Agar told Business Weekly that such a move was in the planning for more than a year and that when talks got underway it became obvious that joining forces would hold significant long-term benefits for both parties.

Agar said the combined services that can be offered by Birketts and EC3 in tandem were a potent driver of growth.

Founded by David and Gisèle Coupe in 2012, EC3 Legal is recognised as a leading insurance firm providing in-depth legal expertise to clients of every level, including industrial bodies such as market committees, trade associations, regulators and other professional bodies both inside and outside the UK. 

With a cohort of 20 staff members offering support to around 200 clients, EC3 Legal is a sizeable firm with a broad reach.

The merger will allow Birketts to build upon its burgeoning reputation for international work for clients based in the UK and to those abroad with financial or business interests in the UK. 

To help drive this forward Mark Pinder, who has experience of a broad spectrum of international businesses, and Jonathan Hulley – a highly-regarded social housing specialist who both enlisted as partners in March – will join the team in London to develop a national offering. 

Agar said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Birketts to build on the impressive strides we have already made and establish a London presence. The specialist services provided by EC3 Legal are ones that fit seamlessly in to Birketts’ full service offering as we look to extend our geographical reach while remaining committed to our East Anglian roots.”

James Austin, senior partner added: “Like Birketts, EC3 Legal offers a rounded approach to the delivery of legal services and have garnered a reputation for being approachable as well as commercially minded. 

“Their contemporary thinking and modern approach to delivering services, helps them to stand out in a highly competitive marketplace. Their focus on client experience coupled with an outlook that puts their clients at the heart of everything they do, makes them an obvious cultural fit for Birketts and we look forward to what the future holds.”

David Coupe, senior partner at EC3 Legal said EC3 Legal’s focus had always been on serving its client’s businesses. “Following the merger with Birketts, I am confident that our clients will continue to be the biggest beneficiaries, as the two practices will be able to expand and develop the range of services on offer to new and existing clients,” he said.

Agar told Business Weekly that the current coronavirus pandemic had underlined the importance of caring for clients to the nth degree – not just in terms of work but in sharing in and helping deal with any problems they were experiencing.

The firm has just donated £60k in total to be shared by the four communities across which it operates and Agar said the private client strength that Birketts is renowned for would stand it in good stead in the coming weeks and months of the crisis. 

“We stay close to our clients – not just as businesses but as individuals and continue to treasure that unrelenting commitment. We want to provide any help we can give our private clients on an unconditional basis not help today and a bill next week.

“A lot of law firms as they grow can forget their roots and the people and businesses with whom they formed relationships that helped get them where they are. We have to demonstrate strong support for our clients just as they put their faith in us in the first place.”

Agar said the firm’s entry, through merger, to the insurance market was a cross-border play at home and internationally. He said Birketts was determined as it continued to grow not just to work AROUND the world but to work WITH the world and the individuals and organisations that helped make it keep turning – businesses and communities.

“During this crisis, through using smart technology, people of all ages, ethnicities and religions speaking so many different languages have been able to communicate with each other and even play bridge or hold quizzes online in real time. Even my 80-year-old parents are tapping into the Zoom, Skype, Microsoft upskilling capabilities.

“COVID19 is already changing the way we work and live and I expect to see that continue in years ahead. Birketts is determined to adapt with the people we know and those we will meet in future and provide the help and services they will require in the new world that is already emerging.”

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