The lawyers at specialist insurance and professional indemnity (PI) boutique Robin Simon like to think of themselves as working at the country’s “smallest national firm”.
That, at any rate, is how managing partner David Simon describes the firm he co-founded in 2003 alongside fellow Hammonds refugee and Robin Simon senior partner Michael Robin.
“We’re a one-department national firm that defends other professionals,” Simon says.
Hammonds’ former 19-lawyer commercial insurance team is now a 40-lawyer stalwart of the sector, avoiding the conflicts that plague the larger multi-service juggernaut firms. “We tell our clients, ’You’ll never see us on the other side’,” adds Simon.
Robin Simon’s client base includes a “very large number of big law firms, multinationals and insurers”, says Simon, although as he adds, identifying which clients it acts for is often difficult.
“We’re retained to defend well-known professional firms and no one likes to have their name associated with a firm that does that, even if the claims are spurious,” contends Simon. “We offer a discreet service.”
The firm’s low profile has not stopped it from building a solid reputation in its market; but equally, it has not shielded it from the pressure on rates that led to a flat turnover of £7m last year.
“That result represents the state of the insurance market,” admits Simon. “We’ve had no increase for at least two years. We’re in the same boat as the personal injury firms with the same pressures to commoditise. We have to increase the work we do to stand still.”
Simon adds that his firm has been “studying the Legal Services Act for a long time”, with the potential plan of creating an ABS encompassing a range of insurance-related services.
Depending on the timing of the SRA’s approval, the new business offering a collection of services under one roof could go live as early as the New Year.
Firm: Robin Simon Turnover: £7m Managing partner: David Simon Number of partners: 12 Number of equity partners: Eight Number of lawyers: 40 Number of fee-earners: 45 Number of offices: Four Locations: Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester Main practice area: Insurance litigation Key clients: Professional firms and individuals