Halebury to double in size as it chases ABS

TMT and sports firm Halebury has made a series of major hires in an ongoing recruitment drive ahead of a planned conversion to an ABS model.

The firm has hired Raj Koria, previously the senior director of legal affairs at sports agency SPORTFIVE. Koria is the firm’s fifth hire in two months.

Halebury was one of the first firms to pioneer the flexible-freelance solicitor model. It has no partners and does not require a cash contribution from new joiners.

The model means its 17 fee-earners earn a percentage of what they generate and have a bigger say in what work they do, according to director Janvi Patel, who jointly leads the firm with co-shareholder Denise Nurse.

Patel said that Koria’s hire will be followed by another five significant hires by the end of 2012 and a further 15 next year – doubling the size of the firm as demand increases.

Former Charles Russell solicitors Patel and Nurse are currently in early discussions with potential investors about converting to an ABS. Halebury expects to record a 150 per cent turnover increase in 2012-13, from a low six figure sum for the past financial year. Patel said the firm was set up in 2007 with the Legal Services Act possibilities in mind. Clients include BSkyB, Ericsson and the Bangladesh Cricket Council.

Koria spent six years in-house with FIFA as deputy head of the commercial legal department and worked on the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup programmes. While with SPORTFIVE, he negotiated the company’s sale of its media rights for the 2014 Russia Winter Olympics and Rio 2016 Olympic Games – work which he is bringing with him to Halebury.

Also joining is Suzanne Young, a TMT lawyer who is moving from an in-house senior lawyer position with Sky. She previously worked at firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, WilmerHale, Wiggin and Harbottle & Lewis.

In July, Halebury took on Ilana Swimer from Herbert Smith, Caroline Ford from ICT service provider Damovo UK and Marissa Jones from Honda Motor Europe.

Koria said: “Halebury has carved out an enviable niche practice, successfully combining sound legal advice with insightful business consultancy to an impressive client list.

“The growth in the commercial side of sport shows no signs in slowing. Both corporations and sporting teams increasingly require strategic business consultancy delivered in tandem with pragmatic legal advice, so it’s an exciting area to be involved in.”

Nurse added: “Raj is the fifth lawyer in two months to join our team and we expect many appointments of his calibre over the coming months, as we look to double the size of our team. Raj’s extensive experience, particularly on large sponsorship and broadcast work, will be of great interest to current and potential clients alike. It gives us a stronger platform to focus our sports practice on corporate clients.”