London litigation boutiques prove attractive

A hit with in-housers, litigation boutiques are keeping the bar buzzing

The explosion of litigation boutiques in London since 2008 has had an impact on the bar, and not in the way that many anticipated.

Many predicted competition between barrister and solicitor would reach boiling point following the implementation of the Legal Services Act (LSA), and that barrister partnerships would become the norm. Equally, crystal ball-gazers foresaw the advent of ballsy in-house advocacy units that would pressure civil barristers to yield on rates.

In fact, change has been driven by in-house counsel looking to be more efficient with their spend.

No longer are in-housers constrained to a few firms for top-level advice. The arrival of boutiques such as Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Enyo Law, that are willing to cut fee deals and share risk, is attractive for some.

Start-up Hage Aaronson arrived with a bang in March, with the addition of a four-partner team from Dorsey & Whitney and Graham Aaronson QC from Pump Court Tax Chambers.

Proving this was no flash in the pan the firm last week added the former head of Blackstone Chambers Tom Beazley QC.

As one commentator puts it, “It goes to show there’s space for barristers to work more closely with solicitors, but it will only work if there’s a level playing field.”

These boutiques are ensuring the bar bristles with activity and, in return, niche firms are benefitting from a raft of referrals from advocates. The relationship just keeps getting cosier.