White & Black

White & Black founder and managing partner Phil Riman established his boutique firm in 2007.

He has always been part lawyer, part ­entrepreneur; at ­university he established a fine-art business, which he ran for three years before selling it, using the ­proceeds to train as a lawyer.

His business-focused mindset pervades White & Black, with the majority of partners at the firm ­having worked in industry. White & Black sets its stall out as ­offering value for money. It is a lean ­business, a ­product of having spent its nascent years operating in the cost-conscious post-crash market. The firm’s office is a converted barn in Oxfordshire.

It has only one secretary and one operations ­manager, with the rest of staff all fee earning.

White & Black also has a merit-based, all-equity partnership with five members.

Riman terms himself the ­“fatherly dictator”, assessing partners’ ­performances, giving equal weight to work done, work won and team contribution. He says he is not out to make a fortune, just a decent ­living. He invests in his people and the firm’s ­technology, but that is it: everything else gets ploughed back into the business. As a result White & Black can charge clients around a third of City rivals’ rates.

“I’m very capitalist and I don’t apologise for it,” asserts Riman. “The demands from clients these days are extreme. They want you to respond within ­minutes with useable advice. Slow turnaround times just don’t cut it.”

When the firm started out it was almost exclusively handling venture capital deals for ­tech companies. It now has ­dispute resolution and ­commercial practices, although both still centre on technology and ­information and communications technology issues.

Managing partner: Phil Riman

Turnover: £1.5m

Number of partners: Five

Number of equity partners: Five

Number of lawyers: 10

Number of fee-earners: 15

Number of offices: One

Location: Oxford

Main practice areas: ­Corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, ­technology transactions, ­venture capital

Clients: Ability Technology Group, Concha y Toro, ­Focusrite Audio, Immedia Group, Isklar, London Welsh RFC, Netvibes, Photobox, ­Photoways, Sarenza, Teknos