Mills Selig might be a Belfast-based law firm but it’s a firm that has grown to become a serious player on the international stage when it comes to deals, mergers and acquisitions involving its Northern Ireland-based clients.
The Belfast firm’s top corporate lawyers have found themselves leading deals as far afield as China, Canada, Australia and both coasts of the USA in recent times and more international legal work is in the pipeline.
“We’ve always been a firm focused on corporate, commercial property and litigation work. We’ve never done any criminal, legal aid or matrimonial work,” explains Managing Director, John Kearns.
“We might be based here in Belfast but we work anywhere that we need to work for our clients.”
And those clients range from major Plc’s, private equity providers, banks and private companies to large-scale property developers, leading retailers and international media organisations.
Along with Chris Guy, head of Corporate, and Kathryn Walls, director in Corporate, he’s been clocking up the air miles
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of late, working for client First Derivatives Plc on a series of transformative acquisitions (with a value of c. £65m) including its acquisition of Kx Systems Inc, the California-based software company specialising in high performance data technology. It’s a deal that saw Kearns spending two weeks based in Palo Alto to see matters through to their conclusion.
Mills Selig also acted for the shareholders of Toomebridge- based Retlan Manufacturing Limited (the parent company of SDC Trailers Limited) in its acquisition earlier this summer by China-based CIMC Vehicles. And it was instrumental in the multi- million pound deal which saw Newtownards-based Hughes Insurance being sold to US insurance giants Liberty Mutual.
The Belfast law firm has just been given a comprehensive re- brand and John Kearns says that it comes at a good time. “We’ve maintained our guiding principles as a firm but our new brand reflects the profile of the firm more completely,” he says. “We’ve got a much younger average age amongst our lawyers now and we’ve also grown beyond recognition from when I joined in the mid-1990’s.”
“We are an energetic, innovative and dynamic team and one with plenty of technical expertise and experience. It’s this combination that makes us stand out”
Away from high end international corporate work, the Belfast law firm does plenty of work in its own jurisdiction for its business clients.
Areas of particular expertise include licensing. It provides licensing related legal work for Wine Inns Ltd, one of Northern Ireland’s largest retail drinks groups, as well as for establishments like the Galgorm Resort near Ballymena.
Mills Selig has made six lateral hires (hiring lawyers from other law firms, in other words) in recent times to take its fee-earning team to 27. It’s a team that increasingly includes solicitors with GB qualifications as well as NI ones.
“Our clients doing business internationally really don’t want to have to work with London-based lawyers or with law firms based in other jurisdictions,” Kearns says. “They appreciate being able to work with a local firm that they’re used to working with.
“So that means that we have to take control of each brief and become the point of contact for our clients right through the legal process….wherever it is taking place.
“In short, we’re working with leading Northern Ireland companies and Northern Ireland individuals who are active on a global basis.”