Associate Editor Caroline Hill reports…

Speechly Bircham IT Director Robert Cohen has been appointed to take on the role of Global IT Director within newly-merged Charles Russell Speechlys after the merger officially went live on Saturday 1 November. Cohen, who joined Speechly Bircham in November 2001, was up against legacy Charles Russell IT Director Lee Hanley for the role. Hanley, who joined Charles Russell in 2008, was previously Systems and Technology Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Reed Smith. Cohen will now be responsible for the global IT budgets, strategies, operations and projects of a combined firm of 170 partners, 500 lawyers and with revenues of £135m, after the partners of both Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger in July this year. The combination creates a top-30 UK law firm that focuses on private client, real estate and construction, litigation and dispute resolution, and business services,

The recently-announced heads of the four key practice areas have been split equally between Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham. Bart Peerless and Duncan Elson from Charles Russell will head up the private client and litigation and dispute resolution department respectively, while from Speechlys, Tim Raper and Tom Shaw will continue to head real estate and construction and business services. Headquartered in London, the merged firm has a network of offices across Europe (Switzerland, Luxembourg and Paris); the Middle East (Bahrain and Qatar); and the United Kingdom (Guildford, Cheltenham and London.)

“The size and structure of the firm unlocks significant opportunities for our clients and for our staff,” said James Carter, Charles Russell Speechlys’ managing partner. “Partners from both firms had the desire to create a market-leading firm providing business law and private wealth advice internationally. The creation of Charles Russell Speechlys takes us a long way towards meeting that shared and now very achievable objective.”

Insider Comment: It will be interesting to see how the merger pans out on the IT platforms front because although both firms have several systems in comma,, including BigHand DDS and InterAction CRM, they are split over PMS: Charles Russsell are on Elite, Speechlys are on Aderant – and DMS: Charles Russell are on a legacy OpenText platform, Speechlys are on HP WorkSite.