In the 2010-11 financial year Keystone Law posted a revenue hike of 9 per cent, up from £10m to £11m. According to managing partner James Knight, the uncertainty caused by the recession has created some opportunity for growth and practice diversification as clients shop around further for legal services.
“It’s a very good time to be an entrepreneurial firm,” he says, reflecting on Keystone’s structure.
The firm’s 105 lawyers work flexible hours from home and are supported by a central office base that employs 15 people.
Launched in 2002 by Knight, a former Trowers & Hamlins solicitor, the firm was originally known as Lawyers Direct. A rebrand was decided upon in 2008 because the firm felt it had become associated with personal injury work. Knight told The Lawyer in 2009: “It had connotations of cheapness and that’s, clearly, not something we’re trying to convey.” (The Lawyer, 19 January 2009).
The recession has given Keystone a chance to enter new practice areas. It has added a healthcare group to its broad practice roster, which also includes traditional areas such as corporate/commercial, commercial property and litigation.
Knight says having lawyers working from home means they are “not restricted by the usual parameters”, so are able to be more flexible on price. At the same time, he asserts, in-house lawyers are looking to cut legal spend and are therefore more willing to use less conventional firms.
Having focused on Keystone’s internal structure for the past two years with investments made in IT and offices, the next aim is to start expanding internationally. Knight says the launch of a commercial arm in Australia is likely through a joint venture structure, while tie-ups in Italy and France are under consideration.
Managing partner: James Knight
Number of partners: Two
Number of lawyers: 105
Number of fee-earners: 106
Number of staff: 120
Number of offices: One
Main practice areas: Corporate commercial
Key clients: Dulwich College, Sodexo, ING Real Estate, Lloyds Pharmacy, Stagecoach South Western Trains, Neal’s Yard, Nickleby, Newsflare, Your Golf Travel, Hardy Underwriting, Maven Capital Partners, 247 Jet, AAH Pharmaceuticals