Firm profile: Lane & Partners

Managing partner: Keith Gallon
Turnover: £8m
Total number of partners: 19
Total number of staff: 70
Main practice areas: Art, aviation and travel, commercial, commercial property, construction, corporate finance, insurance, IP and litigation/arbitration
Key clients: ABB, Estée Lauder, Hyundai, Thames Water and Vodafone
Number of offices: One
Location: London

“We believe there are real opportunities to be a quality boutique that stands aside from others that have been absorbed into larger firms,” comments Lane & Partners corporate finance practice partner Nicholas Sayers.

Lanes was set up in 1974 by Terence Lane, who was integral in establishing Baker & McKenzie‘s (B&M) London office – its first overseas outpost. Lane demerged the London office from B&M and managed to retain many of its international clients.

“We established a network involving overseas law firms, and from the outset Lane & Partners was unusual in being small in numbers but acting for substantial organisations and having a truly international practice,” Sayers says. “Even today we see ourselves as being an unusual practice, because while we act for substantial companies, we’re still comparatively small by London standards.”

The last five years have seen the firm grow from 12 to 19 partners. “It’s not been an explosive growth, but it’s been steady,” says Sayers. “We still want to remain completely independent and keep on acting for those established clients.”

Lanes is known for its strength in specific sectors such as aviation, where it acts for airlines, airports, tour operators, regulatory authorities and insurers. It recently advised British Midland Airways in a landmark hearing before the Civil Aviation Authority regarding the allocation of scarce capacity on air routes between the UK and India.

The construction department recently acted in a dispute between joint venture partners in a $267m (£151.8m) gas plant project in Saudi Arabia. The dispute concerned uncertainties over the design of the plant and was resolved through the appointment of a single International Chamber of Commerce arbitrator, with almost full recovery for the client. The firm’s construction client base includes Balfour Beatty, Mowlem and Thames Water.

There are five partners in the corporate finance department. “We aim to do between 20 and 30 transactions a year of different sizes, but we see our core deal size as being between £2m and £100m,” says Sayers.

He recently advised on the AIM flotation and associated funding of Jarlway Holdings, the first industrial business from mainland China to come to AIM.

Corporate finance partner Simon McLeod has spent a lot of the year working on a substantial, five-state multijurisdictional transaction for Nova Chemicals, which entered into a joint venture with Innovene (formerly BP Chemicals). Sayers says that, based on such significant client wins, the firm plans to remain an independent boutique.

“Many of the firms that have been our competitors have decided it’s best to join up with the larger American firms,” says Sayers. “Our position has been that it’s best to buck the trend and remain independent. I think it’s unusual to occupy that space. So it’s more of the same – to grow, but remain independent.”

Keith Gallon
Managing partner
Lane & Partners