Total number of equity partners: 11
Total number of fee-earners: 15
Main practice areas: Public sector (parliamentary, projects, litigation)
Key clients: Transport for London, London boroughs of Lambeth, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Westminster and city councils of Cambridge and Milton Keynes
Number of offices: One
Location: Holborn, London
Founded in 1826, niche London firm Sharpe Pritchard specialises in work for public authorities, acting for more than 250 public sector organisations, including local authorities, central government bodies, trusts, schools and housing associations.
Senior partner Ashley Badcock says that 10 years ago the firm took a strategic decision to focus on projects. The practice has since burgeoned, particularly in the past two years. Sharpes has closed 13 PFI deals for 12 different authorities in the past 18 months and has another 15 underway.
Badcock says Sharpes is one of the leading firms for public sector projects. It specialises in PFI, outsourcing contracts, construction projects and public procurement and also handles large-scale commercial and property development work. Its areas of expertise include waste management, schools, libraries, leisure and housing and social services.
In recent months, the firm has expanded its parliamentary practice. Recent parliamentary work includes representation in the debate over the London Cross-Rail project on behalf of the Corporation of London and the London boroughs of Bexley, Camden, Havering, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea and Newham. It is also representing Liverpool Council in its bid to have smoking banned in parts of the city.
Sharpes was also one of the three firms selected for London’s first-ever cross-borough panel, when East London boroughs Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest elected to pool their legal spend in February.
Along with rivals Mills & Reeve and Trowers & Hamlins, the firm has been appointed by the three boroughs until 2009. It expects to advise them on work including real estate, planning, regeneration and PFI, employment and litigation. The appointment will also generate a stream of work ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the three boroughs poised to benefit from scheduled regeneration projects.
Sharpes also sees itself as a national leader when it comes to local government litigation. The firm deals with administrative law and judicial review cases and specialises in environmental law for clients needing action taken urgently.
Badcock says Sharpes’ plan for the next year is to be the first choice firm in the “highly competitive” public sector market over larger firms such as Mills & Reeve and Trowers, as well as Eversheds and Wragge & Co.
Sharpes has no immediate plans for lateral hires, preferring to promote internally. Badcock says the firm also has no plans for new offices, having renegotiated the lease on its current premises just last year.