After already expressing an interest in launching a commercial arm in Australia, Keystone Law has revealed plans to set up similar joint venture structures in Italy, France, Israel and South Africa.
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The firm first announced its intentions in December 2011, citing the potential to create a commercial arm in Australia via a joint venture structure, as well as mulling similar tie-ups in Italy and France (5 December 2011).
Managing partner James Knight has since revealed that he has his sights set firmly on two additional foreign jurisdictions: Israel and South Africa.
“For a number of reasons, this diverse list of countries has been identified as highly receptive to the Keystone business model,” Knight told The Lawyer.
“Our interest in Australia, in particular, has led to a number of advanced discussions with potential joint venture partners. Small and medium-sized companies are not well-served in Australia at the current time whilst there is a plentiful supply of lawyers seeking alternatives to the conventional law firm; a surprising situation for a country that introduced the equivalent of the ABS several years ago.”
Other jurisdictions have since become attractive propositions as well, according to Knight. “In France, an aggressive tax structure means that fee-earners in law firms are all self-employed whilst in Italy client loyalty attaches very much to individual lawyers rather than specific firms. These are factors that help make relevant jurisdictions well suited to the Keystone model,” he added.
Keystone’s dispersed model allows its 105 consultant solicitors to work flexibly from home. The firm only has two partners, Knight and corporate partner Williams Robins, and the firm has 15 permanent members of support staff. The firm was launched in 2002 and its clients include ING Real Estate, Lloyds Pharmacy, LoveFilm and Neal’s Yard.
“We’re either seeking or already in discussion with potential joint venture partners in all of the stated jurisdictions,” added Knight.
The news comes as the firm saw its turnover at the 2011-12 final year-end increase by 5 per cent from £10.7m. Last month Knight told The Lawyer that he plans to more than double Keystone’s turnover within three years to £25m by attracting 50 new lawyers to its ranks (12 July 2012).