Lovells forms fire-fighting force

Lovell White Durrant is this week putting 15 of its key partners on a standby list to act in project finance deals for clients all around the world.

The firm's overseas partners had previously handled local clients from the respective bases without easily being able to call in aid from other offices.

London-based energy partner Tony Higginson, who initiated the move, said: “When a job arrives, at say, our Ho Chi Minh office, the partners would try to handle it there. But obviously our Ho Chi Minh office isn't knee-deep in partners.”

Now, said Higginson, clients have a list of 15 extra partners to choose from. In the event of a “fire-fighting” case where a client needs to complete a deal within a matter of days, “there's bound to be at least one partner free to handle it, even if the others are tied up doing other work”.

He said nine of the 15 would be based in London, two in Hong Kong, and the remainder in Prague, Paris, New York and Ho Chi Minh City.

He admitted the initiative would force partners to travel more but added: “We all do a lot of travelling in any case”.

The list of 15, which will go out to all clients this week, includes experts in finance law, energy law and international arbitration to try to provide a team that can cover all aspects of project finance.

Higginson said the move had been triggered partly by one of the firm's partners doing some work in Eastern Europe. The lawyer had been approached by clients who needed urgent assistance on a finance project.

Higginson said the move was also brought about by the recognition of the international expansion of project finance work which had increased since the opening up of Russia, Eastern Europe and the Third World to development.