Stringer Saul is no longer your 'typical West End practice'
Stringer Saul's presence in the IT market is growing with the help of the firm's latest recruit Roger Loosley, who joined from Fladgate Fielder. Loosley runs the IT division of the commercial department. Clients include Cimage NovaSoft, Creative Labs, Baltimore Technologies and the Council for Registered Gas Installers (Corgi). Norman Ziman, head of the publishing group at Stringer Saul, explains: "The firm was set up about 25 years ago by Philip Saul and Geoff Stringer. It was very much a typical West End commercial and property practice. More recently we have developed away from property towards a more commercial bias, acting exclusively for corporates with the emphasis on commercial work for companies in the intellectual property (IP) sector." The firm's strategy is to develop its core practices of IP and IT, its knowledge-based industries and life sciences to offer an all-round commercial service. Building on its existing reputation, Ziman hopes to expand the firm organically and has no specific plans for merger. In June, the firm acted for Aspinalls Online on its acquisition of Gaming Ventures International. That together with the readmission to AIM was worth between £35m and £40m. It also acted on Wolters Kluwer Group's sale of the Financial Training Company to a management buyout company, a deal of similar value. John Ilett, former Stringer Saul lawyer and now legal director and company secretary at Oxford GlycoSciences, says that the firm provides a good service. He praises its dedication, value and notably how it assigns partners to ensure consistency. As ever, there is the problem that even the best small firm cannot offer the scale of support needed for a large transaction. Ilett says: "You just know that if you use someone like Slaughter and May they can throw 20 people at it and they will work 24 hours around the clock." Staff turnover at the firm is reasonably stable, with many of the partners having been with the firm for 10 years or more. In such a small firm, hiring even one or two lawyers has a big impact, as does the loss of just one partner, especially when it is the managing partner. In February Diana Sternfeld left the firm to join Willoughby & Partners and concentrate on patent litigation. She had been with the firm for more than 20 years. But Ziman says: "We have a remarkably good client list for such a small firm. To us, quality of life is important. We don't expect people to do 2,000-plus chargeable hours a year. You can't charge for every second of time spent with a client, but we believe that every second of that time must count and be value added."