Firm profile: Kemp Little

Kemp Little celebrated its tenth anniversary last week with a party at Bafta’s headquarters on Piccadilly.

Kemp Little” /> Kemp Little celebrated its tenth anniversary last week with a party at Bafta’s headquarters on Piccadilly.

It followed up the celebrations with the hire of its thirteenth partner, Susannah Sheppard, who joins from Addleshaw Goddard in January. “Our thing is to be comprehensive around technology and this hire really rounds us out,” says senior partner and founder Richard Kemp.

Sheppard is joining Kemp Little to launch a competition and regulatory practice. She will team up with Mike Conradi, who made partner in October, having joined from Stephenson Harwood last year. Conradi deals with a lot of telecoms regulatory work.

Kemp left the now defunct Andersen Legal firm Garretts to launch the firm in 1997 as Kemp & Co. For the first few weeks he was practising on his own before colleague Ashley Winton (now at White & Case) joined him.

“Within half an hour of opening I had three new instructions from Microsoft,” says Kemp. “The client base ported across lock, stock and barrel, which was pretty lucky really.”

Today that client base includes the London Stock Exchange, Standard Chartered Bank and FTSE, as well as more recognisably technology-focused outfits such as Expedia, T-Mobile and Ticketmaster.

The firm has expanded steadily to 32 fee-earners and had a turnover of £5.4m at the end of the last financial year. Its 13 partners cover corporate, employment, litigation and IP. But it has not all been plain sailing.

“In the early days it seemed quite easy. During the dotcom boom we grew rapidly and didn’t get too badly burnt when the bubble burst,” recalls Kemp.

But the growth did slow down. Jonathan Little joined the firm in 1999 and Kemp & Co became Kemp Little in 2001. It was the first law firm to transfer to LLP status, which was not too difficult, as it only had two partners – Kemp and Little.

Little quit in 2005 for Simmons & Simmons while the firm was in the midst of a strategic review (he is now at Jones Day). Kemp decided to stick with the name, reckoning that the firm now had a recognisable brand. He now believes Little is more at home in a large firm.

Kemp Little emerged from the strategic review with a new management team. Kemp handed over some of the management responsibilities to corporate partner Siobhan McElhinney, who became managing partner, while Kemp assumed the role of senior partner.

Kemp is now looking forward to the challenges posed by the Legal Services Bill and predicts third-party capital invested in law firms within half a decade. His firm was the first LLP, but will Kemp be the first to accept an offer?”Five years out, it’s a bit early to say,” he concludes.

Senior partner:Richard Kemp

Turnover:

£5.4m

Total number of partners:

13

Total number of fee-earners:

32

Main practice areas:

Technology, media, telecoms, IP, employment, corporate

Key clients:

Microsoft, Expedia, CSC, London Stock Exchange

Number of offices:

One

Location:

London