BCLP’s real estate strength
Before the merger, Bryan Cave’s revenues was almost double BLP’s, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an odd combination. But BLP’s main selling point was its premium real estate practice. At the time of the merger, it has the 14th largest real estate practice in the world and was the UK’s seventh largest real estate firm by turnover in 2016-17 (with real estate contributing 30% of overall turnover). The firm also had more real estate partners than any other firm in the UK, according to The Lawyer.
This came from an early adopted strategy by BLP. The firm realised it could win big mandates for real estate and then cross-sell to other departments. It did also invest heavily in private equity, finance and tax, back when it was trying to become a full-service firm, but they became more of a support for the real estate department. This focus helped the firm score highly for improvement to its profits per equity partner over a three-year period before the merger, a figure which rose by 64%
Thanks to the merger, BLP gained access to a huge US real estate market. It was a big win for the real estate team, although that didn’t stop some partners from leaving. As an applicant, you may want to discuss how the merger is exciting for lawyers because they’ll gain access to top tier work and a new market. They’ll also be opposite many of the big firms in the practice areas and there will be plenty of opportunities for career development.
From a business perspective, the merger offers legacy BLP opportunities to cross-sell its real estate expertise to Bryan Cave’s corporate clients. This strategy of cross-selling real estate work is something BLP has been doing internally in 2014.
Bryan Cave did a fair amount of real estate work too, and combined, they were predicted to have the fourth=largest practice in the world. In addition, Bryan Cave did a lot of high-volume M&A work, which now complements BLP’s corporate team. Its biggest practice is litigation and again that’s an area BLP has invested heavily in – litigation and corporate risk, in particular. Applicants might want to raise the opportunities to work in new departments and sectors, and the firm’s ambitious growth prospects, as a reason why they are applying.
Moreover, since the merger, BCLP has secured many interesting deals, such as the £350m financing of Regent’s Crescent, a residential project in London’s Marylebone and the largest Shariah-compliant financing in the UK for several years. For this mandate, the firm pooled together a team across its real estate finance and tax practices and oversaw work undertaken by a variety of law firms.
When House of Fraser was threatened with collapse and concern grew over the use of CVA’s to rescue troubled companies, BCLP was proactive in advised landlords and the firm led workshops to facilitate discussions for various interested parties.
BCLP was also selected to replace KWM as sole adviser to The Crown Estate to its £7bn London portfolio. This has led the firm to recently advise the prestigious client on its first new build office development in St James for three years.