Field Fisher Waterhouse is poised to become the first City firm to accept share options in lieu of fees from developing IT clients.
The firm is in discussions with two clients it is advising on refinancing
projects. The innovative payment arrangements will involve a significant
proportion of the fees being paid in shares. Field Fisher is now taking
advice from a US-based law firm experienced in similar deals.
Taylor Joynson Garrett has announced that it is willing to enter such a
deal but has not managed to strike any deal with clients.
Michael Chissick, head of IT and on-line law at Field Fisher, says: “This
is something which is done a lot in the States, and we are in fairly
high-level discussions with one of the large US firms based in Silicon
Valley on the best way to go about it.”
High-tech clients are often legally intensive from the start, says
Chissick, and are not always making a profit. Often they are putting a
significant amount of money back into the business.
“It's not necessarily that the clients can't afford to make the payments,”
says Chissick. “Rather that they want to get Field Fisher Waterhouse more
closely involved. They want their lawyers to share the pain as well as the
“There is obviously an amount of risk involved,” he says. “It's not
something we're going to enter into willy-nilly, there has to be a good
chance of the shares making a profit.”
One leading London IT lawyer described news of the deal as surprising.
“Personally I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. I'm not into that risky
business – my clients pay me.”
Chissick says: “We will definitely be doing it, it's just a question of
making sure the client has the right prospects.”
Taylor Joynson's corporate partner Gordon Jackson says: “It is still
something we are willing and able to do but we are waiting for the right