South East Law firm eyes continued growth with £5m BGF investment

BGF, the independent company established to help Britain’s growing businesses, has invested £5m of equity finance in McMillan Williams for a minority stake in the company.

Founded in 1983, the law practice has grown from several high street branches, predominantly in and around south London and the South East, to 18 today. McMillan Williams services clients throughout South, West and Central London, Kent, Sussex, and Devon. Revenues have increased nearly 70 per cent over the past three years and the business is on track to turnover £18m in the year ending April 2015.

McMillan Williams operates a number of practice areas in the consumer legal services sector including conveyancing, personal injury and family law.

BGF’s investment will fund the opening of a further eight offices in London and the South East over the next two years and the recruitment of approximately 75 new solicitors and additional legal staff across the firm. Further opportunities for growth include the recruitment of high quality legal professionals and the possibility of moving into new legal areas as the business scales. Other practice areas that have already been identified include commercial conveyancing, mental health, financial claims on divorce and civil litigation.

McMillan Williams is led by founding Partner John McMillan, CEO Colum Smith and 20 other partners. The firm will be recognised at this year’s ‘Modern Claims Awards’ for ‘Best Lawyer’ in Richard White, whose recent work improved the rights of adopted children, and for ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ for its outdoor ‘Justice is a Birthright’ campaign.

Erin Hallock, Senior Investment Manager at BGF, who joins the board of McMillan Williams, commented:
“From our first discussions it was clear that McMillan Williams is a business led by an ambitious management team that has consistently delivered high levels of profitability in a fragmented market and where there is a large opportunity to grow organically and through consolidation.

“The management team has successfully grown the practice from five high street branches in 1995 to 18 today and has achieved strong and consistent revenue and profit growth over the last five years. BGF can add real financial support and guidance to support management in their plan to open new sites in London and the South East. Their rollout strategy is proven and future expansion therefore is eminently achievable. We look forward to working with Colum, John and the wider McMillan Williams team.”

Colum Smith, CEO at McMillan Williams, added: “This is an exciting new chapter for our business and one that will bring positive developments for both our clients and our staff. We have built a very successful and well-regarded legal firm over the past few years and our staff have worked incredibly hard to get to where we are now.

“We were attracted to BGF’s alignment of interests with ours, their offering of patient capital that could be deployed over a longer time period and also to their ability to provide follow-on funding should markets like conveyancing continue to perform strongly and our growth outstrip expectations. That type of support, guidance & backing is unusual in the legal field. This is excellent news for everyone associated with our business.”