Poppleston Allen

Nottingham-headquartered boutique Poppleston Allen has built a reputation both for licensing work and embracing change since it launched in 1994. So much so, in fact, that one of its most recent clients, Paddy Power, found its way to the firm via Google.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith

“We use Twitter and Facebook and work hard at improving our Google hit rate,” says ­Poppleston Allen ­managing partner Jonathan Smith, who adds that the firm has attracted at least 40 clients this way.

The firm’s inclusion in The Lawyer Awards 2011 nominations is unlikely to hurt its profile either, although Smith and the partners will have to wait until 21 June to find out if it is this year’s Niche Firm of the Year. While Smith insists his firm is happy to remain a boutique, four years ago it launched an office in London, headed by partner Clare Eames, to avoid losing out to rivals as it did a few years ago.

“Had we had the London office we probably wouldn’t have lost one particular client,” admits Smith. “Now we have an office in Central London,
so if our clients there want to see us we can just get up and go and see them. It’s making a healthy profit.”

Last year Poppleston Allen enjoyed its busiest year, with turnover hitting £2.6m. The firm’s biggest biller is partner Lisa Sharkey, whose client base includes lap dancing operators across the UK.

Elsewhere the firm advised Mitchells & Butlers on the licensing aspects of a £500m disposal ­programme. Smith and his team worked over
a weekend to ensure 246 licences did not lapse and the businesses could continue trading.

With 6 October looming, Smith says the firm ­has no plans to head down the alternative business structure route, but partners have discussed hiring barristers.

“It could work, but there are no plans at the moment,” he says.

Managing partner: Jonathan Smith
Turnover: £2.6m
Number of partners: Seven
Number of equity partners: Five
Number of lawyers: 11
Number of fee-earners: 25
Number of offices: Two
Locations: London, ­Nottingham
Main practice area: ­Licensing
Key clients: Bourne Leisure, Carluccio’s, Crown Leisure, PizzaExpress, Six Piers, Young’s Brewery