Glasgow's Law At Work gains firepower with owner's £5m acquisition spree

Glasgow-headquartered workplace legal specialist Law At Work (LAW) has announced the growth of its business through three acquisitions – collectively worth more than £5 million – by its parent company.
Magnus Swanson, who was previously chief executive at Maclay ­Murray & Spens - now Dentons. Picture: contributed.Magnus Swanson, who was previously chief executive at Maclay ­Murray & Spens - now Dentons. Picture: contributed.
Magnus Swanson, who was previously chief executive at Maclay ­Murray & Spens - now Dentons. Picture: contributed.

Dundee-based HR software provider Youmanage; employment law firm and employee relations (ER) technology business ESPHR; and third sector specialist HR Services Partnership will now be integrated into Marlowe’s employment law and HR arm on the back of deals worth a combined £5.15m.

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The firms will be led by LAW and Ellis Whittam, which deliver Marlowe’s employment law and HR services across the UK. The deals are described as representing a “major step for the group, supporting the overall growth trajectory and expansion of its services proposition”.

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Magnus Swanson is chairman of employment law, HR, and health and safety specialist LAW – and former chief executive of Maclay Murray & Spens, now Dentons.

He hailed the deals, adding: “Since becoming part of Marlowe, our ambition has been to acquire further businesses that complement our own, in order to strengthen the services we provide to our clients. These acquisitions reinforce our current offering with more high-quality legal expertise, market-leading software and greater capability in our HR consultancy offering.

“I’m very excited about our future, the opportunities that this will bring for our brilliant team, and the enhanced level of support this will offer our [small and medium-sized enterprise] and mid-market clients.”

Youmanage is seen as reinforcing LAW and Ellis Whittam’s software offering, and was bought for £1.25m, comprising a £750,000 upfront consideration and the remainder a deferred element.

The firm helps employers improve the quality and effectiveness of their HR management processes through a “new breed of subscription-based HR technology”, and it supports about 200 clients, having developed a platform it says addresses the needs of both smaller and larger organisations.

Youmanage chief executive Nick Pye said: “Technology is set to play an increasingly important role in the delivery of HR and advisory services to business owners, HR professionals and people managers alike.”

Turning to ESPHR, the Woking-based employment law compliance specialist was bought for £3.2m. It is billed as a new model employment law firm and ER technology business comprised of a 14-strong team, including top employment lawyers. Established in 2003, it now supports some 170 retained clients – including Greene King, Randstad and Entain.

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ESPHR is expected to build on the existing strength of Ellis Whittam and LAW in the legal space, combining technology and employment law knowledge to compete with traditional law firms.

HRSP was bought for £700,000 and the Horsham-based firm specialises in delivering bespoke HR support to charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Its team of 21 HR consultants provides project-based and retained support to around 200 clients each year, offering help with administrative, operational and strategic HR requirements. It says it has experienced strong growth in the last year, with an annual turnover of £1m, and will enhance LAW and Ellis Whittam’s presence in the third sector.

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