Wiggin & co

Cheltenham, home of the racecourse, is also home to Wiggin & Co, which has just helped the Racecourse Association sell the media rights for its 59 racecourses. But Wiggin & Co is not a one-horse firm that got this instruction through its Cheltenham connections. Rather, it is a media and private client niche practice with enough high-profile entertainment companies on its books to rival any City firm.`The firm was founded in 1973 by Harry Wiggin, previously of Freshfields. It started with only private clients, which was a good excuse for Wiggin to leave London.`”When you're dealing with private clients, many of whom live overseas, you can be based anywhere,” says partner Mike Turner.`Simple enough. But how does this approach work for media clients? Turner says: “There isn't a lot of difference between the geographical scope of the private clients and the media companies Wiggins works for. Both groups are spread all over the globe and the firm has service centres in London and Los Angeles to accommodate them. Although lawyers are recruited to Cheltenham, they all work in LA and London as well.”`Wiggins has a good list of media clients. It has advised Telewest Communications on all of its corporate deals during the past two years, including the merger with Flextech in April 2000. It also works for magazine publisher Emap, various television broadcasters including Fox Kids, Discovery and UKTV, as well as dotcoms and music companies.`The firm is duty bound to conceal the identities of its private clients, although they are probably British and very, very rich. “Let's just say that many of them will be found in the top 30 of The Times Rich List,” hints Turner, although he refuses to reveal how many private clients the firm actually has.`Media partner Caroline Keen says: “The underlying ethos of the firm is confidentiality. This also extends to our media work. The firm's reputation is based on its sensitive treatment of private clients, and media companies often choose us because they don't want to be talked about.”`Keen is Wiggins' only lateral hire at partner level to date. She joined from Olswang in the late 1980s.`”Olswang grew too large for me,” she says. “I chose Wiggins for the chance to work with the same quality of clients in a more intimate environment and without the commuting.”`There are 13 partners in the firm, five in the private client department, seven who concentrate on media, and one who looks after property work. Although each partner and solicitor works between 12 and 14 hours a day, they are treated well, with lots of media-style perks.`”We're truly media-focused,” says Turner. “Each solicitor has access to the latest technologies, including laptops and the latest mobile phones, and we all dress down, in the same way as most people in the media world. Add this to individual offices and an average of 20 minutes travelling a day for most staff and you can see why the firm has such an appeal.”