Senior partner: Tim Perry Turnover: £650,000 Total number of partners: One Total number of lawyers: Eight Main practice areas: Dispute resolution Key clients: Mark Wilson and Tag Heuer Number of offices: One Location: London's West End
"As the name suggests, we wanted to create a new, invigorated approach to providing law services," comments Tim Perry, managing partner of West End litigation specialists Spring Law. The firm, which now has eight fee-earners, was established in 2001 to provide specialist litigation for private and corporate clients.
It is the view of Perry that the big City firms, which he hopes his new practice will compete with, have long lost their bounce. "My experience is that the wheels turned slowly and there's a remoteness between the associate working on the case and the client," he argues. "There's also an inherent conflict between the need of the lawyers to bill at a value that ultimately keeps them in their jobs and the legitimate expectation of the client to receive proper and a well-costed service. I wasn't particularly satisfied with the modus operandi of those firms and the way litigation was handled."
He is quick to add that his unflattering view of private practice in the City is not informed by any of the firms he worked for. Perry qualified as a litigator with Simmons & Simmons; he then moved to Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) before joining Sportsworld Media Group as general counsel.
Sportsworld, though, went bust two years after Perry joined. "That was a defining moment in my career, because it gave me cause to contemplate either a return to private practice, going to another in-house job or setting up my own firm," he says.
Spring Law pitches itself as a specialist litigation and dispute resolution firm and aims to compete with the City in these sectors. The firm's lawyers come from firms such as Kendall Freeman, Lovells and Olswang.
Spring Law is converting to a limited-liability partnership model. Perry believes it is another way of breaking away from the traditional law firm model. "I've always felt that partnership conveyed the wrong managerial mentality, because it suggests parochial self-interest," Perry says. "I want to manage this as a mature business from the start, where one's objectives are to become a director if you have the management skills, or otherwise you can be a shareholder and share in the profits."
The firm recently acted for Mark Wilson, the former commercial manager of yachts-woman Tracy Edwards. Judgment was made against Edwards for more than £130,000 in relation to contractual claims, with costs awarded of more than £20,000 (which the court reckoned to be "very reasonable"). Edwards was represented by Perry's former firm DWS, whereas Spring Law represented Wilson after Perry bumped into him sitting on his catamaran at Cowes Week.
According to Perry, the case is an example of a David-and-Goliath battle that demonstrates the potency and cost-effectiveness of instructing a niche law firm. "The firm's message is that clients can obtain a good-value service that is focused towards their expectations and results, rather than towards the profitability and expectations of the lawyers who handle them," he says.