McCarthy Denning redefines the business of law

'McCarthy Denning is a full service international law firm with a difference. Partner-only advice, flexible fee arrangements and no chargeable hours targets are just some of the ways in which we are redefining the law firm model to meet the needs of clients in the 21st Century. You will be amazed at just how good a law firm can be when it is focused on your needs rather than those of the firm - when the metric for performance is client satisfaction and not profits-per-partner.'


Our Philosophy


Our Lawyers


'At McCarthy Denning we call ourselves a 'next generation law firm'. What do we mean by that and how exactly are we 'redefining the business of law'?'

The McCarthy Denning Philosophy

When we set out to create McCarthy Denning we started by asking our clients and colleagues to challenge everything about the traditional City law firm. We wanted to understand what it was about existing firms that clients and lawyers alike were finding so frustrating. No aspect escaped scrutiny and at the end of it all we had a radically different model for the delivery of high quality legal services, a brand new philosophy of legal business.


These are the key elements of the McCarthy Denning model:

Partner driven – our advice is formulated and delivered by partners with major law firm pedigrees, not by juniors and trainees. We harness the skills, experience and contacts of senior lawyers for the benefit of clients.

Flat structure –  City law firms are traditionally structured with comparatively few partners at the top who are encouraged to push client work as far as possible down the ‘pyramid’ to much larger numbers of less experienced lawyers, where it can be done most profitably from the firm’s point of view.  At McCarthy Denning we do not employ ranks of junior lawyers so there is no imperative for us to find work for them to do at our clients’ expense.

Intelligent sourcing – where less experienced lawyers are needed for certain tasks we use specialist paralegals, barristers or junior solicitors sourced on an hourly or daily basis. This means they are only used where needed for the expeditious handling of client matters and not to generate extra profit for the firm or utilise fixed overhead. It also means that our clients avoid having to pay for the on-the-job training of junior lawyers.

Vastly reduced overheads – engaging a major law firm should be about buying intellectual capacity and expertise, not impressive architecture or elegant marketing materials. We have eschewed the ostentatious offices of the traditional international firm and our lawyers instead work from hot-desking hubs or remotely. We have also outsourced all the functions which normally feed the overheads of our more traditional counterparts, from secretarial services and document production through to marketing and PR.

No chargeable hours targets – because of the innovative, entrepreneurial way in which we remunerate our lawyers, they do not have chargeable hours targets.  Removing the constraints of the billable hour facilitates greater creativity from our lawyers and real value-added solutions for our clients.  Our lawyers take a  fresh approach to their work – one more concerned with quality than quantity.  Flexible working arrangements for our lawyers encourage a closer working relationship with our clients.

Flexible billing structures – the other elements of our business model allow us to offer the charging arrangements which a growing number of clients are demanding – such as success fees, conditional fees and fixed fees – in a way that really works; where the partner delivers right to the end no matter how much time is “on the clock”.

Technology driven – we are able to utilise levels of IT security and redundancy that were beyond the reach of all but the largest firms only a few years ago.  Our Practice Management Solution is  state-of-the-art and underpins our entire model, bringing greater efficiency and transparency for our clients and more control and flexibility for our lawyers.

Intelligent thinking – as well as great pedigrees, our lawyers share the ability and willingness to think intelligently, to see clients’ problems and goals not just in terms of legal issues, but of commercial or personal outcomes as well. That means being truly proactive, bringing innovative ideas and a wealth of contacts from around the world to create opportunities as well as present solutions.

Client centric – everything we do is driven by client needs. Our entrepreneurial business structure allows our lawyers to focus on the practice of law, while experienced business leaders manage the infrastructure and delivery of legal services. An advisory board of non-lawyers (CEO’s, entrepreneurs and members of other professions) keeps us in touch with what clients are thinking, enabling us to continually fine-tune what we do.

We hope you will agree with our many clients (who include major international financial institutions, high net worth individuals, listed companies, private groups and entrepreneurs) that McCarthy Denning’s philosophy has broken the mould – and there is no going back.


'At McCarthy Denning we have brought together a team of senior lawyers who are recognised as experts in their area of specialisation by both clients and leading legal directories. Unlike many of their peers in the leading traditional firms, however, our lawyers pride themselves on their willingness and ability to go the extra mile. They not only bring commercial expertise to the solving of legal problems, but use their business ideas and networks of contacts to solve commercial problems and create profitable opportunities for our clients.'

Practice Areas

Our banking and finance lawyers act for lenders and borrowers alike on a variety of financing transactions from straight forward senior lending through to mezzanine debt and convertible loan notes. Traditionally firms have treated some of this work as commoditised and largely pushed it down to junior lawyers, but we believe that this sort of attitude led to borrowers and lenders finding their documentation wanting when the financial crisis hit in 2008. Partner-level attention is never out of place in financing transactions. Particular areas in which the team bring to bear its expertise include:
  • real estate finance: acting for lenders and borrowers on property development and investment financings, including lending against single assets and portfolios of commercial projects (including bars, hotels and other leisure facilities) and on urban regeneration and mixed-use projects.
  • acquisition finance and structured finance: acting for corporate borrowers, senior lenders and hedge fund lenders in relation to pre-IPO financings, advising issuers on bond and note listings and management buy-out/buy-in teams and private equity backers on all aspects of acquisition finance.
  • project finance including PFI/PPP: acting for lenders and borrowers on the financing of domestic and international infrastructure including projects in the rail, water, natural resources, energy, waste, health and education sectors.

The team regularly advises leading domestic and overseas lenders on the taking of security over UK assets and the related intercreditor arrangements. We also co-ordinate the taking of security across multiple jurisdictions.

For more information about our expertise in banking and debt finance please contact Jon Leggett.

Our restructuring lawyers act for companies, company directors, and a variety of creditors including institutional lenders, bondholders, landlords and funds (including funds engaged in buying debt on a loan-to-own basis with subsequent restructuring).

They combine clear legal advice with commercial acumen, a great wealth of experience and credibility in order to present realistically achievable and/or innovative solutions to restructuring problems. They are very much solution focused.

Our restructuring team works with other fields of experience (such as employment, pensions, tax, litigation) as required and has relationships with teams in other jurisdictions in order to handle cross jurisdictional restructurings (as well as having experience of working in other jurisdictions).

Typical activities include:

  • debt and equity restructurings and reschedulings
  • interim protection of core businesses
  • refinancings
  • debt-for-equity swaps
  • purchase of distressed debts (singularly or in debt portfolios) and advising on loan-to-own options
  • sales/acquisition of distressed businesses
  • security reviews and enforcement options
  • corporate insolvency regimes
  • advising on directors’ duties
  • advising on creditors’ rights
  • insolvency investigations and litigation
  • fraud and asset tracing
  • personal insolvency

For more information about our expertise in restructuring please contact Jon Leggett.

As well as our expertise in Equity Capital Markets work, Mergers and Acquisitions and Venture Capital and Private Equity, our corporate lawyers bring their many years of experience to bear in handling a full range of other corporate and commercial matters including:

  • joint ventures and shareholder agreements
  • reorganisations
  • distribution, marketing, franchising and agency agreements
  • intellectual property – advising on the registration of trade marks and patents and other means of protecting IP rights: –  advising on licensing of intellectual property and compliance with EU and UK competition law
  • agreements with suppliers – outsourcing, consultancy, software licences and support
  • agreements with customers – terms of business, supply contracts and tendering
  • data protection and freedom of information – we offer a “health-check” service to assess your level of compliance and advise on any action required
  • financial services regulation

For more information about our expertise in corporate and commercial matters please contact Richard Beresford.

Whether you are launching an IPO, undertaking a secondary fund raising or simply coming to the market, you need senior lawyers who not only know what they are doing, but are willing to use their networks of contacts (including PR agencies, sponsors, nomads, brokers, investor relations specialists and accountants) to help you pull together the right advisory team. Our corporate lawyers will do just that. They act for nomads and brokers as well as companies coming to, or raising money on, markets such as the Official List, AIM or GXG and this has given them a wealth of connections and skills which can be put at your disposal. More often than not these public markets transactions involve an international element with the team’s recent IPO’s involving countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Malta, China and Macau.

For more information about our expertise in equity capital markets please contact Richard Beresford

Private company mergers and acquisitions are a core part of what our corporate team does and they are extremely good at them – clients praise team members for attributes such as being “commercially astute” and having “excellent negotiation skills”. A crucial part of the team’s approach is to take the time to understand the commercial aims behind the transaction they are advising on and then apply themselves to achieving them. Both Chambers and The Legal 500 laud members of our corporate team for having just such qualities. It is disappointing how many lawyers seem to view negotiations as more of an opportunity for “point-scoring” than for getting their clients to where they want to be.

Cross-border transactions call for not just commercial awareness and technical legal understanding, but for sensitivity to cross-cultural issues. Many years of experience of working on acquisitions involving companies in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America have given our corporate lawyers the flair needed to successfully navigate the nuances of international deals.

All of this, together with our willingness to really work on a fee basis other than “by the hour”, is, we think, an unbeatable combination when it comes to mergers and acquisitions and our clients would seem to agree.

For more information about our expertise in mergers and acquisitions please contact Richard Beresford

Whether you are just starting out in business, going through a high-growth phase or hoping to launch a management buy-out you need advisors who not only have the specialist skills to deal with the myriad of complex legal issues that arise, but who understand the entrepreneurial urge, who “get” where you are coming from. The key members of our corporate team are all entrepreneurs in their own right (having founded, launched or helped finance a number of businesses) or who sit on or chair the boards of entrepreneurial companies. That wealth of experience gives them the insight needed to help you get to where you want to go – it also gives the team the connections (whether they be with financial investors, brokers or potential strategic partners) that will, hopefully, help you raise the funds needed to finance that journey.

As well as acting for start-ups, high-growth businesses and management buy-out and buy-in teams, our corporate lawyers advise venture capitalists and private equity investors. This gives them another invaluable perspective, enabling them to put themselves in the shoes of the other side; to understand the motives and parameters that drive and constrain the counterparty’s approach to negotiating a deal.

For more information about our expertise in venture capital and private equity please contact Richard Beresford.

Our construction and engineering lawyers work with clients undertaking a variety of different projects from large regenerations to individual house builds.  They have worked with major real estate developers, retailers, luxury hotel chains, energy companies, and public services providers in healthcare, transport and education.   One of our lawyers even worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to help deliver facilities for the London 2012 Games.

Our lawyers have particular expertise with critical infrastructure projects, particularly those projects which require the construction sector to work together with energy, technology and telecommunications.  Our lawyers’ work on data centre projects, “smart city” projects and other critical infrastructure has received many accolades.  Our team works in the UK and internationally, since contracts are frequently let under English law.

We are not afraid to roll our sleeves up, to understand the construction methodology and the technology being used, in order to identify risks and help our clients to manage them effectively. For more information about our expertise in  construction and engineering please contact Ed Cooke

When employment issues arise, directors and members of senior management need advice from a lawyer who has enough experience and understanding to grasp and deal with the dynamics at play when  people reach the highest levels of an organisation. Whether you are negotiating your service contract on the way in or trying to extricate yourself from a business on the way out, our employment team have the gravitas and insight to help you achieve your goals. Their work for employers also gives the team a valuable perspective on how the “other side”  may be thinking when it comes to negotiations, both contentious and contractual. Areas covered by the team include:

  • unfair and wrongful dismissal
  • service agreements
  • compromise agreements
  • shareholders agreements and disputes
  • restrictive covenants  and fighting injunctive relief
  • disciplinary hearings and sanctions
  • all TUPE related issues, reorganisations and redundancies

For more information about our expertise in employment advice for individuals please contact Marilyn Heward-Mills.

Employment matters go to the heart of most businesses and getting the best possible advice has to be a priority. Our employment lawyers bring a wealth of experience to bear, whether it is in setting up the right contractual arrangements or successfully dealing with disputes. That experience and nous enables them to guide our clients through the dangerous waters that modern employment law represents for many. In a traditional firm, employment work can get pushed down to the more junior lawyers of the department, but, in our view, if there is a mission-critical aspect of business it is the employer-employee relationship. Handling that relationship properly requires the depth of level-headed experience that only a partner can bring. Areas covered by the team include:

  • unfair and wrongful dismissal
  • service agreements
  • compromise agreements
  • shareholders agreements and disputes
  • restrictive covenants  and obtaining injunctive relief
  • disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • all manner of work place policies, health and safety
  • all TUPE related issues, reorganisations and redundancies

Acting for senior employees as well as for employers also gives our employment team valuable insight into the negotiating dynamic when it comes to settling disputes or negotiating an “exit” situation.

For more information about our expertise in employment advice for businesses please contact Marilyn Heward-Mills.

With Julian Maitland-Walker’s long established reputation as an EU and competition law specialist we can boast one of the leading niche UK practices in the field.

Our areas of expertise include the following:

  • anti-competitive practices – we offer advice on EU and UK competition law, covering all aspects of commercial activity including marketing, distribution, franchising, IP licensing, R&D agreements and specialisation.
  • compliance programmes – undertaking competition compliance audits, establishing corporate compliance programmes and providing monitoring and “hotline” advice services.
  • regulatory investigations – the team has considerable experience in handling “dawn raids” and other investigations by regulatory authorities, providing a rapid and effective response when required.
  • mergers and acquisitions – one of the team’s principal activities is advising on the regulatory and filing requirements under EU and UK law with regard to mergers and acquisitions. We offer the complete service from initial advice to the preparation of the required filings and obtaining clearance.
  • leniency – the team is experienced in assisting clients in leniency applications for competition law infringement and the obtaining of immunity from proceedings on behalf of directors and officers.
  • competition/anti-trust litigation – members of the team have unrivalled experience in competition law litigation having acted for both claimants and defendants in competition law litigation. They acted for the claimants in the first case in which damages for infringement of competition law were awarded. They also acted for the claimant in the first ever grant of interim measures by the Office of Fair Trading.
  • trade law – members of the team advise clients on all aspects of international trade.

In addition the team regularly offers advice on:

  • state aids and public procurement
  • EC anti-dumping investigations
  • implementation of EU regulatory provisions under national law

For more information on our expertise in EU and competition law please contact ‪ Julian Maitland-Walker ‬.

Our litigation and dispute resolution team members are highly rated – the Legal 500 describes them as  “outstanding“.

Our primary concern is to resolve disputes as quickly and advantageously as possible, always weighing the possible outcomes against the costs and risks of litigation. We represent clients in both the High Court and County Court, but are equally willing to use Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms such as mediation to achieve the best solution. The litigation and dispute resolution team works closely with our corporate lawyers on commercial matters and this brings an added dimension that from the foundation of the firm has attracted high-profile and complex commercial disputes.

We are more than willing to work with third party litigation funders and will also consider damages based agreements and conditional fee arrangements.

The types of cases in which we act include: –

  • contractual claims
  • shareholder disputes
  • company and partnership disputes
  • professional negligence claims
  • financial services
  • property disputes
  • intellectual property
  • tax disputes

Examples of significant recent cases handled by members of the team include:

  • landmark case on damages for infringement of competition law before the Court of Appeal and House of Lords (now Supreme Court) (Crehan v. Inntrepreneur).
  • representing the trademark owner in a multinational trademark dispute involving proceedings before the EC Trade Mark Office and the Court of First Instance.
  • representing an international association of publishers of scientific, technical and medical journals in complaint against the German Government for defective implementation of the Copyright Directive EC 2001/29.
  • representing British parallel importers of pharmaceuticals in trade mark proceedings arising out of parallel trade.
  • worldwide freezing injunctions on behalf of victims of international fraud.
  • shareholders disputes, including petitions for unfair prejudice.
  • construction arbitration.
  • appeal against HMRC in the VAT and duties tribunal.

For more information about our expertise in litigation and dispute resolution please contact Ian Timlin.

Our insurance and reinsurance team advise businesses from around the world involved in the transfer of risk. Our lawyers have decades of experience in representing insurers, reinsurers, Lloyd’s syndicate, brokers, underwriting agencies, run-off entities and ILS funds in relation to disputes and deals. They have been involved in some of the most complex multijurisdictional disputes and innovative transactions.

Our team prides itself on its commercial approach to issues and seeks to take a strategic view to problem solving to add commercial as well as legal value to the client’s business.

Our lawyers have particular experience in:

  • reinsurance arbitration and litigation
  • Bermuda form arbitration
  • recovery of reinsurance debts
  • wording drafting
  • product development
  • alternative risk transfer
  • insurance linked securities
  • insurance and reinsurance brokers
  • underwriting agents
  • run off solutions
  • regulatory issues

For more information about our expertise in litigation and dispute resolution please contact Clive O’Connell.

Our experienced commercial real estate team provides in-depth advice and assistance on the whole range of commercial property transactions. We represent individuals and companies with business premises right up to institutional investors with multiple commercial property holdings across all sectors including retail, leisure, industrial, office, agricultural land and developments.

More particularly, we specialise in:

  • acquisitions, disposals, lettings and sub-lettings
  • sale and leasebacks
  • landlord and tenant issues
  • planning
  • rent reviews and lease surrenders
  • property and construction disputes
  • refurbishment and fit-out projects
  • lending  and taking of security

For more information on our expertise in commercial real estate please contact our Property Department.

Whether it is a large-scale residential development, the acquisition of a portfolio of residential investment properties or a one-off acquisition of a high-value house or apartment, our residential property lawyers have considerable expertise and in-depth knowledge of the market. They advise on all the legal aspects of purchasing residential properties, both freehold and leasehold. The team also advises on re-mortgages and residential landlord & tenant matters including freehold acquisitions by leaseholders and lease extensions.

For more information on our expertise in residential real estate please contact our Property Department.

Our tax team advises owner-managed businesses, multinationals, financial institutions and high net worth individuals on the tax aspects of their business arid personal matters.

Corporate Tax

We advise on all corporate transactions including:

  • IPOs, rights issues and share placings
  • UK and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, takeovers and joint ventures
  • Management buy-outs including in the venture capital and private equity fields
  • De-mergers and all types of reconstructions, capital reductions and share buy-backs
  • UK and global internal re-organisations
  • Tax efficient structuring for groups

Banking and Finance Tax

We advise clients on all tax issues relating to:

  • UK and cross border debt financing
  • Structured finance
  • Asset finance far asset classes such as ships, aircraft and films

Technology and New Media Tax

Our particular expertise includes:

  • Advising start-ups on launching digital services
  • Advising on worldwide licence and distribution agreements
  • Advising on VAT efficient structures for digital services and broadcasting
  • Withholding and other taxes on royalties and licence payments
  • SEIS and EIS for tech start-ups

Real Estate Tax

We advise on:

  • The Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) and capital gains tax on residential properties held by corporate entities
  • UK managed property issues including stamp duty land tax, VAT and capital allowances
  • The Non Resident Landlord Scheme
  • Refinancings of UK investment properties
  • Property funds

Tax Disputes and Tax Investigations

The benefit of using a solicitor is that all communications between the client and solicitor are subject to legal privilege. Experience includes:

  • COP 8 & 9 Investigations
  • Assisting film finance clients on HMRC investigations into tax-driven partnership schemes
  • Advising clients on HMRC’s contractor loan scheme settlement opportunity

Employment Tax, Executive Compensation and Termination of Employment

We advise on:

  • All types of employee share incentive and cash bonus arrangements such as EMI, EIS, SIPS, CSOPs and growth shares.
  • All other employee benefits and payments made on the termination of employment.

For more information about our expertise in tax please contact Fionnuala Lynch.


'Our lawyers combine the highest levels of expertise with a love of client service and a dedication to getting the job done efficiently and effectively. They respect the traditional values of the law but are not hidebound by the conventional approaches to legal problem solving. For them legal knowledge is only one facet of what they can offer their clients. There are others that are at least equally important- such as using contacts and connections to make things happen for clients'


'We are redefining the business of law and our lawyers are discovering a whole new and exciting way of working. Do you have what it takes to join the McCarthy Denning revolution?'


A McCarthy Denning lawyer works in a very different way to a lawyer in a traditional international firm. Freed from the daily commute, they spend a good deal of time working from their home office or at one of our hot-desking centres. They also spend more time visiting and working at clients’ offices – which clients and lawyers alike love.  They meet other McCarthy Denning lawyers regularly, but less frequently, in our multi-purpose office hubs or over drinks after work. Perhaps because they are not seeing their colleagues every day they find those interactions are more meaningful and produce more ideas for collaboration and genuine teamwork. Although working remotely, our lawyers enjoy central office support in the form of telephone reception, messaging and connection, daily postal service, stylish meeting rooms and central calendar coordination. Where colleagues are working together on client matters they are connected by Osprey, our state of the art cloud based Practice Management Software Solution. Our lawyers also receive access to the best research and resource tools available such as PLC and Lexis Nexis as well as to an international network of law firms who can assist with cross-border deals or other multi-jurisdictional issues.

Freed up from chargeable hours targets, McCarthy Denning lawyers are free to determine the way they work and the way they charge their clients. They are remunerated significantly better on a like-for-like basis than their counterparts in traditional City and international firms. Where junior support is needed it comes from a pool of junior solicitors, barristers and paralegals sourced from our joint venture partners or contracted in from agencies or barristers chambers.  Secretarial services are also just a phone call or an email away.

McCarthy Denning lawyers have the vision to see where the legal services market is going and the entrepreneurial spirit to take advantage of it. They are experiencing a revolutionary working environment where professional rigour and collaboration co-exist with individual autonomy and a flexible work-life balance.  If you are a lawyer with at least ten years’ post-qualification experience and a serious pedigree and you want to explore whether you have what it takes to join the team contact us at




Contact us

Contact information

McCarthy Denning Limited

25 Southampton Buildings, London, WC2A 1AL
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7769 6741

McCarthy Denning Ltd registered in England and Wales (08460511). Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA No: 598006

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