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In the week in which Dixons' Freeserve became the first big new mediaflotation in the UK, having a stake in an IT company appeared to offer thepromise of huge profits to come.Whether those who are surfing the stockmarket as well as the web will seethose profits in the short term, of course remains to be seen. Freeserve,after all, has yet to show a profit.The news that Field Fisher Waterhouse is taking shares in IT companies aspayment for its services may seem a clever move. It enables the firm towork for start-up IT operations which cannot normally afford top legaladvice, and to be in at the heart of the latest developments in IT andon-line law.The IT lawyer who tells The Lawyer that he prefers to be paid by hisclients in good old-fashioned cash has a point, but small IT start-upsoften lack the cash necessary to buy advice in the traditional way.Of course, Ffw is hoping that the IT companies it has worked for willbecome the runaway successes of Silicon Valley legend. If they do, they mayfind the profits from their advice far outstrip anything they may havereceived by cheque.But, of course, the gamble is just that.As the adverts warn, shares can decrease in value. Not every IT companyhas been a success. Not every new media idea has made its inventor amillionaire.But not every firm is in the position of being offered or able to takeshares as payment, and the relationship that FFW is establishing with itsIT clients mirrors the new flexible economy and relationships that theelectronic economy is setting in motion.FFW has spotted that firms can have a closer and longer relationship withclients than just the lead up to the signing of contracts.They have opened up the possibility for firms to think creatively abouthow they are rewarded, who they choose to get involved with and,ultimately, how they conduct their business.
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