Awards: Focused groups

 Small boutiques are acknowledged for their big achievements 

This year’s nominees for National Boutique Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards show that boutiques are boxing above their weight in all legal disciplines.

Winner Davitt Jones Bould, for example, played a key role in ensuring the success of the Olympics, advising the Royal Parks on the siting of more than 40 events.

Despite crippling cuts to legal aid, tenacious second-placed Jordans Solicitors achieved successful outcomes for hundreds of distressed clients, helped numerous claimants on a pro bono basis and is campaigning for an inquiry into church child abuse.

Third-placed Zyda Law’s expertise in the utilities and energy sector put it top of the list to advise EDF in its response to the Fukushima disaster. The firm has a headcount of five, led by principal Paul Zyda, and cites its holistic approach to project management as a key differentiator.

Meanwhile, litigation boutique Gibson & Co represented Sri Lankan state oil utility company CPC in a $160m (£104m) claim brought by Standard Chartered – a matter that also featured Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy – showing how boutiques can punch above their weight.

DR Solicitors is truly niche, working only with medical professionals. It is a one-stop-shop for the legal and regulatory needs of primary care providers including property issues, contract reviews, employment matters and dispute resolution.

Gunnercooke’s partner-only approach has won the corporate boutique a string of deals including advising the US-based Wabtec Corporation on the £30m acquisition of LH Group. The firm announced the launch of a five-partner litigation team this week, having attracted litigators from big names such as DLA Piper, Hill Dickinson and Irwin Mitchell.

Even relative newcomers have won major instructions this year, such as two-year-old IP boutique Sipara, which acts for Direct Line, Arcadia, New Look and Whittard.

Is this the heyday of the boutique? Possibly. For years, ‘adaptable’, ‘nimble’, ‘niche’ and ‘client-centric’ have been the buzzwords. Smaller firms spinning out of bigger outfits, and focused boutiques embody these characteristics perfectly.