Merge the Wollen Michelmore Way
As of 1st April 2018 Wollen Michelmore merged with Morgan & Pope in Exeter, making the office in Cathedral Yard their 5th office across Devon which also include; offices in Torquay, Newton Abbot, Dartmouth and Barnstaple. The Exeter team have been operating comfortably under the Wollen Michelmore name for two weeks now, following a rigorous lead up.
Wollen Michelmore are no stranger to mergers, having increased their office locations from one to five the last 12 years, through a series of mergers and acquisitions. Through this period turnover has grown from £1m to £7m, and the firm now employs 150 staff.
It is common knowledge that mergers and acquisitions have a high failure rate averaging about 50%, Wollen Michelmore highlight 4 key ways to ensure a successful merger.
1. Preparation and Planning
Possibly the most obvious, yet widely understated point, is that planning is key to a successful merger. Taking into consideration the new office’s IT infrastructure, marketing, communications and work processes.
Clive Meredith Practice Director at Wollen Michelmore says:
“Mergers don’t just happen overnight, there is a huge team of people all with expertise in many areas who work incredibly hard to make a merger happen. We’ve been talking with the partnership of Morgan & Pope for over 2 years and planning heavily for the last 6 months to ensure everything goes smoothly on merger day. But that’s only the start really, then there is a huge amount of training to ensure that new policies and procedures are embedded at an early stage. The more planning that is done the smoother the merger process and the quicker staff feel part of the new firm which is essential to its success.”
2. Strong leadership
Without a strong leadership team to keep on track of things, people can be left in the unknown. It is important to have leaders from both offices managing the changes, integrating their team to the new ways of working and to maintain staff morale.
Charlotte McGregor, formerly Partner at Morgan and Pope reveals:
“We were delighted to be able to retain 95% of our staff as part of the merger negotiations and this was important for both parties. We were keen to ensure that staff felt engaged with the merger both from a morale perspective but also because we recognise that without them we wouldn’t have such great relationships with our clients. They are the face of our Firm and this applied both pre and post-merger.”
3. Ensuring goals and vision are aligned
Before entering a merger, it is important to know that both organisations are aiming towards the same goal. If this is not aligned from the outset then there could be nasty surprises down the line.
Charlotte McGregor explains that:
“In reaching a decision to merge, it was important to establish the added benefits for clients of both parties. The clients of Morgan & Pope can now enjoy a wider range of legal services and consolidation of those services which we had offered for many years.”
4. Cultural Fit
For a merger to be a success both company’s cultures and values should work in concert. It is important for both sides to be transparent and upfront about their cultures and belief and take active steps in how to align them.
Clive Meredith Practice Director highlights:
“It was clear from our first meeting with Stephen Morgan and Charlotte McGregor, that although our firms were very different in size, the culture of the firms was very similar. Both had a strategic goal of growth through serving our clients in the communities we live and work in. Both were full service high street practices which could service the vast majority of client’s legal needs, and both held core values of integrity and fairness, which are so important in any business. Uncovering these fundamental values early on helped us to align our firms quickly and gave us a foundation to build on very quickly.”
Chris Hart, Chief Executive of Wollen Michelmore, adds:
“We are very excited to now have an office in the heart of Exeter. We are especially pleased to have joined forces with such a wonderful group of people at Morgan & Pope. Their passion to serve their clients and provide excellent service knows no bounds, and they have embraced the changes and necessary systems training to become part of a new firm with positive enthusiasm.
We look forward to bringing our wider range of services and greater strength across departments to our existing Exeter clients as well as new clients who will be attracted to the new firm situated in the centre of Exeter. Our range of specialist services for both private clients and businesses will be well received, and of course we will also be offering potential recruitment opportunities as the Exeter office grows.”
Wollen Michelmore provide a wide range of services including but not limited to:
- Private Client services – Wills, Probate, Trusts, Power of Attorney, Charities
- Residential & Commercial Property – Sale & Purchase, Lease, Mortgage/Re-mortgages, Landlord/Tennant
- Dispute Resolution – Contractual Disputes, Professional Negligence, Property Disputes, Landlord & Tennant
- Family – Divorce, Financial claims, Pre & post nuptial agreements, Child care, Disputes
- Business – Mergers & Acquisitions, Company formations, Contracts, Terms & Conditions of Business.
- Employment – Employment contracts, Redundancy, Unfair Dismissal, Discrimination
- Clinical Negligence – Delayed Diagnosis, Hospital infection, Surgical Errors, Maternity Claims