(L-R) Kindleworth partner James Hacking, ARC Pensions Law’s Jane Kola, Anna Rogers and Anne-Marie Winton with American Lawyer editor-in-chief Gina Passarella

Finalists: Edmonds Marshall McMahon; Hickman & Rose (highly commended); Hughes Fowler Carruthers; Kemp Little; PCB Litigation; Signature Litigation (highly commended); Three Crowns.

ARC Pensions Law was handed the specialist law firm of the year title in recognition of its rapid rise as one of the leading providers of pension law expertise.

Set up in the spring of 2015 by two senior pension lawyers, ARC Pensions Law has quickly grown to incorporate seven partners and seven associates, with turnover expected to hit £4m this year.

It has already scored a number of client successes advising on complex pension structuring cases, notably ensuring the continued survival of one manufacturing company by successfully untangling it from £500m of pension scheme liabilities through a rare regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA). That is especially worthy of praise given that RAAs are usually subject to intense scrutiny from regulators and trustees, and many negotiations fail, often resulting in the company’s insolvency.

ARC also advised one client on the sale of a business unit to a private equity house – a deal that risked triggering more than £100m of pension liabilities and attracting potential intervention from the regulator. ARC resolved both issues by changing the planned deal structure in the UK and negotiating an agreement with the pension scheme’s trustees. “A clear winner in a very strong category,” noted a judge.