Family law boutique Ayesha Vardag Solicitors specialises in high-value, big-impact cases. And they do not come much bigger-impact than last year’s battle between German heiress Katrin Radmacher and her investment banker husband Nicolas Granatino.
The firm’s strategy of moving Radmacher’s prenuptial agreement to the heart of her case not only helped generate the headlines, it is set to make new law.
England is almost alone in not enforcing prenuptial contracts. Later this month, however, the prenup aspect of this divorce battle will come under the spotlight again when Granatino’s appeal against the decision that he should receive nothing as a result of signing it is heard in the Supreme Court.
The case has been described as the case of the century. That is arguably an overstatement, but what seems certain is that the Supreme Court’s decision will throw the spotlight firmly onto a London family law boutique that, although just five years old, picks up some of the weightiest cases around.
“Last year we handled 24 multimillion- or billion-pound cases and 21 mid-level cases, addressing a total asset base of several billion,” according to the firm’s founder Ayesha Vardag.
Vardag began her legal life as a trainee at Linklaters, working on project financings of power stations and diamond mines. After a year handling capital markets work at her next firm Weil Gotshal
& Manges, Vardag crossed to the bar and requalified as a barrister at 4 New Square.
It was only during her own divorce that her professional attention turned seriously to family law.
“I thought I’d like to try to build something myself and do things my way,” she says.
That translates into what Vardag calls a “sensible approach” to litigation, which is not just about winning and “definitely not just about going to court”, but is more informal and empathetic.
Judging from the statistics it seems to be working. Turnover at the firm, which is in the process of incorporating, is on track to rise from £828,000 last year to £1.25m at the end of this month. The firm has expanded from one to eight lawyers over the past four years, while partner numbers post-incorporation will stand at three.
Firm: Ayesha Vardag Solicitors
Senior partner: Ayesha Vardag
Turnover: £1.25m (to 31 March 2010)
Number of partners:One
Number of lawyers:Eight
Number of fee-earners:Eight
Main practice areas:Family
Key clients:High-net-worth individuals
Number of offices:One