“We are known as a media firm in the market and much of our marketing is directed that way,” says Vivian Wineman, the senior partner at David Wineman Solicitors. “In fact we're a media commercial firm, and the commercial is at least as substantial as the media side, but it's rather more discrete – and less distinctive.”
In fact, non-contentious, pure media work accounts for just 20 per cent of the firm's turnover; commercial brings in another 20 per cent, with property topping the list at 30 per cent. The remaining balance comes from litigation.
The firm was formed by Wineman and Irving David just over 20 years ago. David Bray, formerly a partner at Rabin Leacock Lipman, joined last December, bringing the partner count to its current six. There are three other fee-earners. The team brought in revenues of £1.75m for 2001-02, with growth projected at a steady 10 per cent to reach £1.9m for 2002-03.
“We'd like to develop our specialities,” says Wineman. “Our main concern is to play to our strengths. Where we feel we score is that the partners have – without exception – City backgrounds in good technical firms. They also have good commercial understanding.”
Wineman is wary of lawyers who are preoccupied with doing a good technical job without keeping an eye on the broader perspective of the transaction. This can be particularly troublesome in litigation, when lawyers endlessly argue over abstract points, which leaves the client out of pocket. Wineman wants his team to be asking: “What's your final objective?”
Wineman is driven on by thoughts of the firm providing a service that he can be proud of. “The figures will then follow,” he says. “I don't want to feel the pressure to take on things or go into areas where we can't deliver that expertise.”
The greatest challenge that the firm has to overcome on a regular basis is perception. Winemans is not always perceived as being able to deliver value on big-ticket work to the extent that a larger firm can. Most small firms entering a transaction will find that it is asked whether or not it will be able to deliver. The only way around the problem, according to Wineman, is to provide the best service and to continue to grow cleverly.
“We've been approached continually over the last few years [about merging], but I'm not sure that our clients would thank us,” reveals Wineman. “We'd lose our identity.”
Recent work includes advising Music One on the sale of Leosong Corporate Sources, a leading independent music publisher, to BSI Enterprises in 2001 and the Spandau Ballet case. Other clients include a number that feature on The Sunday Times Rich List, the Bob Marley estate, former Beatles producer George Martin, José Carreras and the band Death in Vegas.