Lawyers trade office for canal as part of litter pick

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Tyres, carpets and suitcases were among the items collected by Shakespeare Martineau’s lawyers as part of a litter pick along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towpath.

An entire barge was filled with rubbish by the law firm’s Birmingham-based corporate team, who gave up their time on Tuesday (31 May) to take part in the volunteering day, which was organised by the Canal and River Trust.

The team started at Cambrian Wharf, which was developed in 1769, before making their way down the canal on a barge – collecting kids’ shoes, clothes, bricks, a step ladder, duvets, cans, bottles and umbrellas along the way.

Jody Webb, corporate partner at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Canals provide vital access to green and blue spaces, which improve wellbeing and enhance communities. However, too often, litter is dropped along the towpath.

“The damage rubbish causes to our environment, aquatic ecosystems and wildlife is well-documented. We were really surprised at the amount of rubbish we collected over the course of the day, but it shows how much can be done when people give up their time.

“We are proud to have supported the Canal and River Trust in helping to keep our city clean and tidy for use by the local community, as well as in readiness for the Commonwealth Games this summer, and we are looking forward to helping out more over the next 12 months.

Tara Sexton, volunteer leader at the Canal and River Trust, added: “The work all volunteer groups undertake is essential to the management and maintenance of the heritage assets and environmental concerns prevalent throughout the region. As a wellbeing charity, it is vital we can provide accessible and safe spaces for everyone who visits the canals in Birmingham.

As part of its responsible business strategy, Shakespeare Martineau is aiming to deliver 10,000 volunteering hours in 2022.

People from the firm – including partners Jody Webb, Michael Stace and Peter Mayhew; solicitor Gweni Rees-Evans; consultant Tim Newman; litigation legal assistant Jakub Mikulecky; and paralegal Mia Georgiou – contributed towards this by taking part in the litter pick.

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Jody leads on substantial transactions including acquisitions, disposals, management buy outs and private equity investments with a particular focus on the UK mid-market with values of circa £5m – £100m across a variety of sectors.

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Shakespeare Martineau recognised as top large employer nationally

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Full-service law firm Shakespeare Martineau – as part of legal and professional services group Ampa – has been named one of the top 100 best large companies to work for in the UK by Best Companies.

  • Ranked 61 in top 100 best large companies

  • Ranked 12 in top 25 law firm

  • Ranked 25 in top 75 East Midlands companies

  • Ranked 25 in top 75 West Midlands companies

  • Ranked 33 in top 50 large London companies

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The Best Companies lists are the highest regarded league tables for great places to work – recognising business’ commitment to employee engagement and positive culture. Rankings are produced based on an independent and anonymous survey of people within the business.

Ampa brands were also awarded Best Companies’ second-highest standard two star accreditation – representing ‘outstanding’ levels of and commitment to workplace engagement.

Last year was Ampa’s first time being involved in the awards – ranking 58 in the top 100 Midlands companies and 42 in the top 75 large London companies.

It is truly fantastic to have achieved recognition as a top large employer nationally, as well as in law, the East Midlands, West Midlands and London, which is testament to our positive, passionate and authentic culture.

Ben Buckton, chief marketing and people officer at Ampa

Last year, we featured on three lists and it is incredible to have retained and, in some cases, significantly improved our places on these league tables while also ranking so high nationally too.

“We are also delighted to have received such high levels of engagement from our people and a two star ‘outstanding’ accreditation. Our people are our greatest assets, greatest advocates and what we are all about. They drive our business forward and by investing in them, their ambitions, development, and wellbeing, we are able to provide the best service and outcomes for our clients.

“The insights we’ve gained from the B-Heard survey, alongside our own regular internal Pulse feedback, helps us keep our commitment to continuous improvement as we strive to be one of the most empowering and inclusive workplaces in the UK.

Ampa, which has pending B Corporation status, is proactively looking for like-minded businesses to join the group. All Ampa brands are recruiting lateral hires and teams.

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Ben is part of our Main and Exec Boards, and as Chief Marketing & People Officer (CMPO), he is responsible for our people, customer, commercial and marketing strategy.

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We support new Muslim youth mentoring scheme

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Midlands law firm Shakespeare Martineau is supporting British Muslim charity Mercy Mission UK in launching a new mentoring scheme.

100 local businesses across Birmingham will take action to help young people from across the region, improving their life chances through confidence and resilience building.

The scheme will offer mentoring and work experience placements to Muslim youth across the city directly tackling the long term inequities they face as people of faith.Initially centred in Birmingham, those first 100 businesses will take part in the scheme championed by Shakespeare Martineau in partnership with Mercy Mission’s ‘Faith in Our Cities’ initiative.

Speaking at the recent launch event, Azim Kidwai, CEO of Mercy Mission UK, urged business leaders to find out more about the youth empowerment programme and shift the dial domestically for a generation of young people, marginalised through lack of cultural understanding and fit for purpose employment opportunities.

Mohammed Saqub, partner at Shakespeare Martineau and head of Islamic finance, said: “It’s estimated that 17% of UK prisoners are Muslim, despite Muslims making up just over four per cent of the UK population.

A core challenge is that there is an issue with young people heading for a life of crime, as they see little alternative in their future or simply not fulfilling their true potential. Increased mentoring – especially from people who speak and look just like them and share the same cultural heritage – could make all the difference in the path a person chooses to follow.

When I was at school in the centre of Birmingham, I was influenced by a lawyer who came into our school to talk about what he did. Without him, I’m not sure whether I would have chosen this path – his mentoring opened-up possible options for a career and I am passionate about doing the same for others.

Spearheading the scheme is local civil society leader Jehangir Malik OBE, from Mercy Mission UK. He said: “We are really excited about launching this new scheme and are very optimistic by the initial response we’ve had from diverse local businesses in Birmingham.

The project is co-created by young people and local businesses as part of an intergenerational approach to strengthening British Muslim civil society. We recognise the untapped potential of British Muslim youth and the positive role they can play in shaping and enriching our society.

To this end, we are focussing on creating a multi-faceted developmental approach that ensures that Muslim youth in Britain can fulfil their true potential by launching the Muslim Youth Connected Youth Futures Programme in Birmingham.

For more information about the Muslim Youth Connected Futures Programme, please visit Mercy Mission or get in touch with Jehangir Malik.

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Mohammed is a real estate finance and islamic finance specialist with considerable experience in dealing with a range of high-value and complex property investment, finance and development transactions.

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We appoint a Birmingham specialist corporate finance partner

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As part of its ambitious growth strategy, leading law firm Shakespeare Martineau has appointed corporate partner Michael Stace.

With more than 25 years’ qualified experience, Michael joins Shakespeare Martineau from Browne Jacobson, where he was head of the firm’s Birmingham office.

Specialising in corporate finance, Michael advises public and private companies, individuals, and institutions on domestic and international M&A, private equity investments, restructurings, joint ventures, and partnership matters.

Michael, who will be based at Shakespeare Martineau’s Birmingham hub, said: “I am thrilled to have joined such a forward-thinking and ambitious firm at such an exciting time. I have been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of those within the business, and I am looking forward to helping the Birmingham corporate team build upon and cement its presence and reputation in the local market.

Michael qualified in 1995 while at Cole & Cole – which, subsequently, became Morgan Cole and then Blake Morgan – and became a partner in 2004. He was head of corporate at the firm for four years, as well as an executive board member for three years, before joining Browne Jacobson in 2017.

Recently, Michael has acted for the founders and management in connection with the Westbridge-backed management buyout of Smart Capital Technology, as well as for NorthEdge on its acquisition of the global marketing services and consultancy firm ICP.

He said: “I really enjoy helping key decision-makers deliver on their business strategies and balancing risk and commercial objectives. I am excited to begin working with the Birmingham corporate team to strengthen its community ties and expand the firm’s client base in the West Midlands.

Michael’s appointment is the latest in a string of new partner hires – including corporate partner Jody Webb in Birmingham – as part of Shakespeare Martineau’s growth strategy, broadening its footprint both north and south.

His appointment is not the end of the firm’s corporate team expansion as it continues to talk with various lateral hires and teams.

Victoria Tester, partner and managing director of life and business at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “There is a lot of opportunity in the corporate market across the whole of the Midlands and beyond. With a wealth of experience and a strong local reputation, Michael’s appointment consolidates our commitment to providing clients with top quality consultancy from the very best legal minds that Birmingham has to offer.

Duncan James, partner and head of corporate at Shakespeare Martineau, added: “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the team, which is part of our continuing commitment to having a strong corporate presence across all our major hubs. We are continuing to look at further corporate recruits across our hubs as we continue to look to significant growth.

Shakespeare Martineau is proactively seeking talented people to join the firm on its growth journey, including mergers, team recruitment and lateral hires nationally.

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Birmingham law firm supports residential developer with corporate bond

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Shakespeare Martineau’s Birmingham office has supported residential developer One Heritage Group with the issuance and listing of a corporate bond on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

The bond – which has a fixed annual coupon of 8% that will be paid semi-annually – is not convertible and will mature in February 2024. The bond’s gross proceeds of £1,500,000 will be used to partially repay the existing loans outstanding to One Heritage Group. The issue of the bond required a Financial Conduct Authority approved prospectus and will be admitted to the standard segment of the Official List.

Keith Spedding, corporate partner at full service law firm Shakespeare Martineau, who led the deal, said: “It has been great to assist One Heritage Group with this issuance and listing – just 18 months after we supported the company in its admission to the London Stock Exchange.

“We work with a number of residential development and housing clients – at all stages of their business lifecycle – and it’s good knowing that we’re working with businesses and organisations doing the important job of tackling the shortage of good accommodation across the UK.

One Heritage Group is a property development and investment management company, which focuses on the residential sector primarily in the north of England. In 2020, One Heritage Group became one of the first publicly-listed residential developers with a focus on co-living.

CEO Jason Upton said: “The issue of the corporate bond demonstrates how the management team is diversifying sources of funding for the business in an effort to reduce risk and the cost of finance for the organisation.

“The funds were all raised outside of the UK, which demonstrates the strength of our overseas network, notably in Hong Kong. We automatically turned to Shakespeare Martineau to support us on this and Keith and his team delivered.

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Keith advises companies (both public and private), partnerships and their owners on all aspects of corporate and partnership law.

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Birmingham law firm’s family team bolstered with specialist partner appointment

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Leading full service law firm Shakespeare Martineau has welcomed new partner Aasha Choudhary to its family team in Birmingham.

Aasha specialises in high-value, complex financial matters, often with significant international elements, including assets abroad, jurisdiction disputes and third-party interveners. She also has a deep knowledge of wealth protection work, children matters, pre- and post-nups, and separation and cohabitation agreements.

With more than 13 years’ qualified experience, Aasha has joined Shakespeare Martineau after eight years at Mills & Reeve, where she worked her way up from associate to principal associate. Prior to this, she spent three years as a solicitor at George Green LLP and almost four years at Challinors.

Over the years, she has supported clients with significant wealth, including a high-profile pre-nuptial agreement covering assets worth £1.45 billion.

Aasha said: “I am thrilled to have joined Shakespeare Martineau at such an exciting time. I was drawn to the firm’s culture, nurturing environment and strong values, which focus on empowerment and unity – supporting each person to play to their strengths and allowing them to reach their full potential.

“The family team is well-established and well-respected, and the firm is on the crest of a wave – I am looking forward to being part of its growth journey and I am pleased to be bringing my experience to Shakespeare Martineau, helping to achieve the best possible outcomes for my clients.

Aasha will primarily be based at the firm’s Birmingham office hub but will be working with clients nationally.

She said: “I am excited to be working alongside the upcoming talent we have here at Shakespeare Martineau. My training and the support I received at the start of my career has made me the lawyer I am today, so I am always wanting to give back and share my knowledge with the next generation. I love watching trainees flourish.

“Family law has always been my passion. It is a distress purchase, so the satisfaction of seeing someone who starts the process following a relationship breakdown – typically in fragile place – become the person they are at the end of the journey is extremely rewarding.

Aasha’s appointment is the latest in a string of new partner hires as part of the firm’s growth strategy, broadening its footprint both north and south.

Victoria Tester, partner and life and business managing director at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “We are delighted to welcome Aasha to the firm. She has excellent experience advising on high-value and complex cases following relationship breakdowns, often involving multiple parties, businesses, trusts and foreign assets. Her knowledge will be a real asset to our already strong family team as we look to cement our reputation in the West Midlands.

Shakespeare Martineau – which was recognised as Family Law Firm of the Year in the Midlands and Wales in the LexisNexis Family Law Awards 2020 – is proactively seeking talented people to join the firm on its growth journey, including mergers, team recruitment and lateral hires nationally.

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We support Birmingham Enterprise Community to help entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds

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Leading law firm Shakespeare Martineau is partnering with Birmingham-based social enterprise Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC) to provide more opportunities to support individuals from underrepresented communities to start their own businesses.

The initiative will invite individuals from backgrounds usually underrepresented in entrepreneurship who are seeking to start their own business to apply to receive fully funded support delivered by BEC. In total, 12 individuals will then be selected to receive a fully-funded place on BEC’s 6 week Startup Sprint Programme, commencing in April, which will help them to gain the skills and knowledge they need to start their own businesses and begin to build the connections they need to enable their own professional development. The programme includes workshops, expert mentoring, access to events and more.

The initiative will prioritise applications from backgrounds including (but not limited to) female founders, founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, refugee founders, founders from the LGBTQ+ community and founders with disabilities. However, anyone is welcome to apply.

During 2020 & 2021, a number of reports were released highlighting disparity when it comes to key elements of entrepreneurship amongst various demographics such as access to funding and access to networks. The Startup Sprint Programme which Shakespeare Martineau have supported is part of an ongoing series of activities by BEC to support and encourage founders from diverse backgrounds to both start and grow their own businesses by helping them to tackle some of the barriers and challenges that they face as founders.

Applications for the programme are open until 18th March and can be submitted by completing the following application here.

The programme itself will commence on the 4th April 2022.

We’ve been working hard to create more opportunities to ensure everyone is given a seat around the entrepreneurial table. Anyone that has an idea should be given the opportunity to explore that further and we are excited to be working with Shakespeare Martineau to create new opportunities for founders from all backgrounds to thrive.” - Daniel Evans, Chief Executive, Birmingham Enterprise Community.

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At Shakespeare Martineau our purpose is to unlock potential and we’re thrilled to be supporting a programme that will enhance productivity, innovation and diversity in the business community. If we want to speed up economic recovery it’s our responsibility as experienced business leaders to pay it forward with mentoring and support for start-up enterprises, not least those who potentially face additional barriers to getting a foot on the business ladder, which is already tough enough as it is. I’m really looking forward to following the entrepreneurs in their business journey through the programme.- Jennie Davis, Corporate Associate, Shakespeare Martineau

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