Wragge & Co joins top biotech company panel

Wragge & Co has won a new biotechnical client because of a meeting organised through The Lawyer's in-house forum Legal Monte Carlo 99.

The Cambridge Antibody Technology Group, which has a market capitalisation of £382m, uses technologies to discover and produce antibodies for drugs.

The company was formed 10 years ago and was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1997.

Its core firms are CMS Cameron McKenna, niche player Mewborn Ellis for patent work and local firm Mills & Reeve for employment.

But following a meeting between vice-president of legal affairs and company secretary Diane Mellet and IT/IP partner Patrick Duxbury last November, the group will also be using Wragges for work on a new pharmaceutical software branch of the group, Bioinformatics.

Mellett says: “We have just instructed Wragges to do some computer work. The firm has a good reputation but it came out of Legal Monte Carlo.”

Duxbury says he was “sceptical” of whether the in-house forum would be a source of new work or not.

But he now believes the event is a better way of getting work than conventional methods. “It is a pretty honest way of buying legal services. There is no pussy-footing about, it is very direct and it is what people want,” he says.

“It is an opportunity to save a lot of time through not doing beauty parades, particularly during working hours.”

Duxbury says winning the work is a coup for the practice. “In terms of developing an on-going relationship, Cambridge Antibodies is one of the leading companies on the stock market.”

The biotechnical and pharmaceuticals industry is undergoing a period of renewed investor interest. Duxbury says the sector is in a similar position to that of the dot coms 15 years ago. Although there was a dip at the start of the 1990s, the sector is now buoyant.

He adds: “There is a worry for investors that it takes a long time to make a profit out of the sector because it takes so long to get a drug to market. But if it works then the returns are incredibly significant.”

see sector insight page 20-22.