Rowe & Maw has forged ahead with a pioneering US-style fee arrangement scheme, in which it agrees to take a share in the client company as part-payment of fees.
The law firm agreed to take a third of its fees by way of an equity stake in International Fire Training Equipment (IFTE) to launch the company on the AIM market.
Other advisers on the deal agreed to take shares instead of cash. The listing raised #4.16m for fire simulation equipment company IFTE, which capitalised at #12.7m.
Rowe & Maw partner Stephen Bottomley, who led a team of four on the deal, says: “This is something that will generally increase. It will be used on AIM floats rather than full listings on venture capital transactions.”
Field Fisher Waterhouse, Taylor Joynson Garrett and Cameron McKenna are also looking at striking share deals, mainly in the IT sector.
Declan Tarpey, Taylor Joynson Garrett's managing partner, says share schemes were developed on the US west coast and are catching on in the UK.
He says a proposal for payment by share options was pitched to clients, who then backed out. But he says the firm now has a template and is keen on developing the idea.
Michael Chissick, head of IT at Field Fisher, says: “We have three ongoing. Within three or four months we will have a few under our belt. It will become a trend.
“I think magic circle firms are repulsed by the idea. The idea of them not receiving their fees in cash for a transaction is quite horrendous.
“They have formal structures, but we are prepared to take a risk. This is symptomatic of the gold rush for e-commerce.”