Eight partners have left the Ince Group since the end of March, according to an analysis of Companies House documents, as the embattled U.K.-listed law firm continues to grapple with financial challenges and share price woes.
An examination of a series of documents found on Companies House, one of which is for an Ince Group entity not listed on the law firm’s website, shows that the U.K. partners all left within the last five months, in one of the biggest flights of talent seen at the firm since a sweep of top partners quit in early 2020.
It is the latest setback for the beleaguered listed firm, where the glut of exits coincides with market woes that have seen the firm’s share price contract 85% in the past six months. The most pronounced slump came in July after CEO Adrian Biles announced he was leaving the firm.
The current share price hovers just below the 5p mark as the firm struggles to retain market confidence.
The latest leavers include the firm’s global head of corporate Stephen Jarvis, who left the firm in July, according to a Companies House filing and a person with knowledge of the situation. He is now a partner at Greenwoods Legal, according to his LinkedIn profile. Jarvis was previously a vocal supporter of the pre-pack administration that, in 2019, saw listed firm Gordon Dadds take over ailing legacy firm Ince & Co to create the current structure.
The firm’s head of cannabis law, Robert Jappie, has also exited the firm, according to people with knowledge of the matter and filings. He joined the firm in 2020 to lead a new cannabis law specialism at the firm, but leaves after just over two years.
Other leavers include Ince & Co veteran Trevor Garrood, who, filings show, left the firm in May; Alexander Ktorides, who left in June, and, according to his LinkedIn profile, is now a risk and compliance manager at Bristows; and media partner Robin Shaw—now a partner at Wiggin.
Three of the departing eight have since joined fellow listed firm Keystone Law, including property partner Susan Haggard in June, and corporate partners Stephen Fuller and Paul Toolan in March.
Further, Cardiff head of corporate Theresa Grech, who recently joined Harrison Clark Rickerbys, left the firm in January according to a Companies House filing.
Ince has also hired some U.K. partners over the same period. These have included former Slaughter and May financing partner Oliver Storey joined the firm. Storey retired from the Slaughter and May partnership in November 2020, immediately following an investigation by the firm into alleged misconduct. Ince also hired Tim Foley as a partner and head of property, from Fladgate and property partner David Sutherland from Rodgers & Burton.
The firm’s website lists 105 partners. In the 2020-21 financial year, the firm had 126 partners, according to last year’s U.K. Top 50 rankings.
In July, Ince announced it was undertaking a fundraise to bring in £8.6 million, saying: “Without the fund-raising the Group will face financial difficulties and the company will need to look to alternative sources of funding in the short term which may not be readily available or so advantageous to the Group or its shareholders.” In an update to the London Stock Exchange earlier this month, the firm announced a further fund raise of £1.1 million.
The firm will hold a general meeting on August 25, in which a number of resolutions will be put to its shareholders for a vote.
Earlier in August, Law.com International reported that the firm was unable to make its last two distribution payments to partners on time, leaving partners dependent on family members to cover mortgage payments and school fees. At the time, the firm said in a statement that it had “taken hard decisions and definitive action” to deal with financial issues currently facing the firm.
Ince did not respond to requests for comment.
With reporting by Krishnan Nair