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Tucked away in the heart of London’s insurance hub, between the London Underwriting Centre and Lloyd’s, is a niche firm with a global reach.
Formed 18 months ago from the demerger of Hammonds’ insurance department, Robin Simon already has a £4.8m turnover and clients as big as US insurer AIG.
The firm came into being when Hammonds made the decision not to pursue its insurance practice. The firm and the department came to an amicable agreement and decided on a clean break. Eight partners, led by managing partner David Simon and senior partner Michael Robin, along with their associates and staff, set up in three regional offices, taking clients and outstanding work with them. All work in progress bills were cleared before the move, leaving Robin Simon with a clean slate from which to start.
"The one-size-fits-all arrangement seemed increasingly inappropriate to the insurance market," explains Simon. "It wasn’t doing us a lot of good; it wasn’t doing Hammonds a lot of good. We were both quite keen on creating something in a style that was suitable for the rather specialist style of the insurance market."
Robin Simon acts purely as a defendant firm for big insurers and their biggest insureds, but the work spans most of the insurance world. The firm has been instructed by law firms on professional indemnity claims and successfully represented a consortium of insurers in a High Court claim against Sun Life earlier this year.
Robin estimates that a third of the firm’s turnover comes from US work, advising some of the biggest insurers on disputes in the UK.
The eight founding partners have been joined by two new partners, with Philip Steel’s hire from Beachcroft Wansbroughs in June being the highest profile. Steel launched the Birmingham practice, which concentrates on professional indemnity.
Robin Simon expects the full involvement from all in the firm. Despite being a niche practice, it is registered with the Law Society as a training firm and has four trainees on its books.
"Our junior fee-earners do spend a lot of time getting to understand the underlying business of the insured entities," says Robin.
Although Robin Simon has no "grandiose" ambitions for growth, Simon admits that the firm would like to attract "more likeminded people" in the future. The firm, now well established and increasingly busy, is predicting turnover to increase across the current financial year.
Senior partner: Michael Robin Managing partner: David Simon Turnover: £4.8m Total number of partners: 10 Total number of lawyers: 35 Main practice area: Insurance Key clients: AIG, Ace Insurance, Beazley Syndicate, DA Constable, Markel Insurance and The St Paul Number of offices: Four Location: Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London