The concept of PPP is being tested severely during the recession and what happens next will also test niche firm TPP Law.
Founded in 2001 by former Devonshires partner Mark Johnson and the former head of projects at Eversheds Graham Burns, the firm’s success is entwined with New Labour’s vision of private investment in public services.
The two lawyers saw a gap in the market for a firm focused on PPP and government projects, targeting smaller projects (under £50m) that could not afford the prices of large firms.
Beginning by focusing on PFI education projects, the London-based firm then quickly diversified into a wide range of private/public sector tie-ins, including inventive new schemes involving the third sector. It works with schemes such as those involving the The Orders of St John Care Trust, the second-largest not-for-profit care provider in the UK, which TPP was instructed by throughout 2008 after it moved to operate care homes for several county councils.
“We’re positioning ourselves as the leading legal provider for local authority PPP projects,” says Johnson, the firm’s managing director. “We’re increasingly seeing larger charities fulfilling government contracts. Our clients like that we’re multidisciplined and see no departmental boundaries between the public sector and the third sector.”
The firm sits on the panels of three London boroughs and is hoping to become part of more, but much of the business on the firm’s radar is tied up with a capital expenditure plan worth billions of pounds, including the Building Schools for the Future scheme, which is currently struggling to find private investment.
However, with three lawyers hired in the past six months and a new office planned in Manchester, the pair are sticking with their strategy and smell new business on the horizon.
“We could increase our productivity if the Government came good on its fiscal programmes,” says a frustrated Johnson. “We’re still waiting to see that money filter through to the ground.”
Managing director: Mark Johnson
Number of partners: Three
Number of equity partners: Two
Number of lawyers: 18
Number of fee-earners: 18
Number of offices: Two
Locations: London, Manchester
Main practice areas: PPP (local authority and NHS)
Clients: The Orders of St John Care Trust, Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association, London Borough of Lambeth, Secure Healthcare, London Borough of Ealing