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Bermans turns 50!


Bermans marked 50 years in business on 4 February 2020 and partner Fergal O’Cleirigh explains how the firm has gone from strength to strength and how it has adapted to the changing legal landscape.

The firm, which has offices in Manchester and Liverpool, was set up in 1970 by Liverpool based litigation lawyer Keith Berman. In 1980 Keith left the UK for New York where he established a New York office for the firm. The New York and Liverpool offices split in the early 1980s to create two independent firms both bearing Keith’s name but continued to work closely together.

Fergal joined the firm as an articled clerk in 1984 when the firm’s main focus was on debt recovery and commercial litigation. Fergal comments

“Keith Berman had already spotted the role which technology could play in the provision of debt recovery and had ‘slick’ processes in place which helped us attract top clients including Midland Bank, Allied Lyons and Dun and Bradstreet. The firm soon developed a real niche in the factoring and leasing sectors (now referred to as invoice and asset finance)  and retains a  national reputation in these areas.”

The firm opened an office in Manchester in 1985, again focusing on its specialisms within litigation, debt recovery and finance.


Fergal O'Cleirigh

Fergal O’Cleirigh

Fergal reflects on how the firm has changed over the years

“The legal market has become increasingly competitive over the years and as a result we have expanded our practice areas to ensure we can offer a full service to our clients. As we have grown in size to around 75 staff, we have introduced a more structured management approach. The partnership is a mixture of lawyers who trained at Bermans and lateral hires who we have attracted over the years. I head up the Liverpool office and Phil Farrelly, who joined in 2005 to lead our Corporate Recovery team, heads up the Manchester office.”

Fergal is proud of how the firm has prospered over the years, he comments

“Maintaining our independence in a market where many of our competitors have merged and retaining a culture and identity which makes us an attractive proposition for clients and lawyers from other firms are some of the big successes over the years. We have seen turnover growth every year for the last five years resulting in our best year last year with record turnover of £6.86m. We punch above our weight and compete fiercely to increase our client base/business share while providing an excellent service to our clients and preserving a supportive and enjoyable environment for our fee earners and staff.”

Fergal is confident that 2020 is going to be another good year for the firm as it continues to attract high quality work and lateral hires.

Finally, Fergal sums up the leadership culture at Bermans with the ethos

“Put people in situations which play to their strengths and do not expect anyone to do something you would not do yourself.”