Fee-ding frenzy

Maybe it’s all the frosty weather, or the sheer price of flowers on Valentines Day, but we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about legal fees. Who gets paid what, and how?

So, following our analysis of UK public M&A fees – and the revelation that lawyers take home an average of 29.4 per cent of the total fees shelled out by clients on any given transaction – we decided to delve beneath the surface of some alternative fee approaches.

Take the concept of being paid shares in lieu of fees , for example. The notion is generally thought to have met its demise along with the dotcom boom more than a decade ago.

But for a number of firms the fee structure is still considered a viable option. Stephenson Harwood , Thomas Eggar and Memery Crystal are among those to have taken part payment in equity in recent years. And it’s not just smaller or mid-market outfits getting a slice of the action – even partners at Linklaters admit they’d “never say never” to the arrangement.

The practice remains reserved primarily for Aim-listed clients, on relatively small cap deals. But just think of the windfall that could’ve fallen to Paul Weiss and Skadden , the pair of firms advising Time Warner Cable on its £27bn ($45bn) sale to Comcast , had they taken such a fee option in the company’s earlier days. It was the largest M&A deal of the year so far and the third biggest since the financial crisis.

That would’ve just about covered that bunch of 24 roses.

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