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Field Fisher Waterhouse is poised to become the first City firm to accept share options in lieu of fees from developing IT clients.The firm is in discussions with two clients it is advising on refinancingprojects. The innovative payment arrangements will involve a significantproportion of the fees being paid in shares. Field Fisher is now takingadvice from a US-based law firm experienced in similar deals.Taylor Joynson Garrett has announced that it is willing to enter such adeal but has not managed to strike any deal with clients.Michael Chissick, head of IT and on-line law at Field Fisher, says: "Thisis something which is done a lot in the States, and we are in fairlyhigh-level discussions with one of the large US firms based in SiliconValley on the best way to go about it."High-tech clients are often legally intensive from the start, saysChissick, and are not always making a profit. Often they are putting asignificant amount of money back into the business."It's not necessarily that the clients can't afford to make the payments,"says Chissick. "Rather that they want to get Field Fisher Waterhouse moreclosely involved. They want their lawyers to share the pain as well as thegain."There is obviously an amount of risk involved," he says. "It's notsomething we're going to enter into willy-nilly, there has to be a goodchance of the shares making a profit."One leading London IT lawyer described news of the deal as surprising."Personally I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. I'm not into that riskybusiness - my clients pay me."Chissick says: "We will definitely be doing it, it's just a question ofmaking sure the client has the right prospects."Taylor Joynson's corporate partner Gordon Jackson says: "It is stillsomething we are willing and able to do but we are waiting for the rightsituation."
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