Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series – Andy McGregor

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series –  Andy McGregor

Why are fraud disputes increasing year on year?

Numbers collected by the litigation intelligence company Solomonic show a dramatic increase: 94 fraud-related cases were recorded in 2020, compared with 61 cases in 2019 and 31 in 2018.

Based on our experience, 2021 is likely to see that number go even higher. It’s hard to know exactly what is driving that. I don’t think that we have collectively become worse people though.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series – Michelle Sloane

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series –  Michelle Sloane

What advice would you give to clients who want to be prepared for potential investigations in relation to the criminal offences of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion?

A defence exists of having ‘reasonable prevention procedures’ in place. Therefore, the first thing that I would advise is to ensure these procedures are in place. Despite the new laws on failure to prevent tax evasion being around since September 2017, quite a lot of corporates have failed to implement any procedures. These corporates will find it near impossible to mount a successful defence to these offences.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series – Simon Hart

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series –  Simon Hart

To what extent is the current crisis similar to the 2008 financial crisis?

They are very different. Every economic crisis has different drivers, despite people tending to lump them together. The consequences for the legal market are always different as a result. Why? 2008 was a once-in-a-lifetime event, just like the pandemic, but of a different type. Undercapitalised banks themselves were one of the main causes of the crisis, they were right at the heart. The economy was on the precipice because the banks were so over-leveraged.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series – Jeremy Drew

Sponsored briefing: RPC interview series –  Jeremy Drew

How would you describe RPC’s retail offering?

Our retail group is one of the five strategic focuses of the firm. It sits at the very heart of what we do.

It’s one of the biggest and most comprehensive retail practices in the City. We have the necessary scale. There are more than 70 core people in the retail group, over 30 of whom are partners. We have intentionally kept a reasonably high partner leverage.

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – TMT Team of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – TMT Team of the Year

The entries have been assessed, the shortlists have been drawn up and our panel of general counsel judges have had their say: we are now delighted to reveal the winner of TMT Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

The winner of this category has demonstrated market-leading commercial or regulatory expertise through its advice on a specific, IP, technology or media case or transaction.

 


 


Sponsored by

Winner – RPC

RPC’s TMT team, led by partners Mark Crichard and Charles Buckworth, advised LINK on the hugely-complex tender process for outsourcing all telecoms and technical infrastructure that sit behind its network (as well as the provision of settlement services) – a network that handles more than three billion transactions annually.

This was high-stakes, bet-the-company work. The tender requirement followed a mandate from the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) that LINK run a competitive process for all its underlying switching and settlement technology and services, to ensure sufficient competition. Get it wrong and not only could that spell the end for LINK, but it could also create havoc for business and consumers.

RPC had to plan, construct and execute a competitive process that closely mirrored a public procurement, with all the stringent controls, processes and requirements for transparency and equality of treatment. This created a far-more challenging proposition in what was already a huge technology outsourcing.

RPC collaborated with LINK to draft contracts and run full, parallel negotiations with shortlisted bidders – while satisfying and reporting on complex regulatory requirements, many of which had never been translated into contract requirements before. In a standard outsourcing you typically only need to satisfy the client. But here, RPC had to meet competing demands of LINK’s regulators and obtain approval by over 35 stakeholders, including LINK’s card-issuing and acquirer members.

LINK had a regulatory obligation to complete the process on time or risk sanction by the PSR – so the clock was always ticking. Given the number of stakeholders – several outside the UK – and the novel elements to the deal, working closely as a team was critical. RPC helped LINK deliver the deal on time, to budget, against an extremely challenging schedule and intrusive regulatory oversight.

In the words of John Howells, LINK CEO: ‘We couldn’t have had better support from RPC in what was a critical and complex transaction. They really understood the commercial and regulatory drivers, delivering a service that was clear, commercial, focused and well-managed. What’s more, they were all a pleasure to deal with – good humoured to the end.’

Highly commended – Reed Smith

A Reed Smith team led by Michael Skrein achieved a unanimous Supreme Court win for BT and EE in a case concerning the allocation of cost liability for implementing orders for ISPs to block access to counterfeit websites.

This was a four-year legal battle that culminated in a ground-breaking unanimous 5-0 verdict by the Supreme Court judges. It overturned the Court of Appeal (which upheld the High Court), holding that luxury brands such as Cartier, and not the ISPs, must foot the bill for the costs of implementing orders for the ISPs to block access to counterfeit websites. Given the huge ramifications for intellectual property rights on the internet, this seminal case was watched closely all over the world.

Other nominations

Bristows

Leveraging its lengthy history and expertise in IP and technology, the firm was engaged by Genomics England, the body behind the 100,000 Genome Project, to help develop its PanelApp online tool.

Eversheds Sutherland

Succeeding through a competitive pitch to Orange Business Services, the firm advised the client on the development of its Information and Communications Technology Legal Certification Programme.

Gowling WLG

In a high-stakes patent dispute, involving only the second successful use of an Arrow Declaration, the firm represented GlaxoSmithKline in the High Court against Vectura, the UK-based drug formulation company.

Pinsent Masons

In a landmark case, the firm successfully represented ZyXEL Communications in patent proceedings involving the alleged infringement of two standard essential patents used in broadband technology.

Legal Business

‘On the front foot’ – RPC upbeat after holding steady amid year of change

‘On the front foot’ –  RPC upbeat after holding steady amid year of change

RPC posted muted revenue growth for 2019/20 following changes to the firms practice lines, its latest financial results reveal, while profit per equity partner (PEP) saw a slight dip. 

Turnover at the insurance and litigation specialist rose 1% to £110.1m, with the firm’s commercial & financial markets disputes, insurance, and technology & media practices among the primary drivers of growth as the financial year closed. PEP, meanwhile, fell 4% to £424,000, albeit after a striking 27% rise last year to £442,000 off the back of a contraction in the firm’s equity partnership. 

Revenue growth is slightly down on 2018/19 when the firm managed to increase like-for-like revenues 4% after recording its first full financial year since the selling of half of its management consulting arm. However, the firm reports that after removing its now departed UK construction & projects practice and Hong Kong marine practice from the equation, revenue growth for the past financial year is a pacier 7%.

RPC has undergone a series of structural changes in recent years. In addition to streamlining its practice and selling a chunk of its consulting business, the firm also announced in a surprise move last year it would be ditching its all-equity partnership structure to introduce fixed-share partners and salaried partners for the first time. Meanwhile, the firm also confirmed its new senior partner last month, with Oliver Bray assuming the role on a three-year term replacing commercial disputes partner Rupert Boswall. 

However, the firm shrugged off the uncertainty of 2020 to start the year in an expansive fashion, recruiting a new restructuring and insolvency team in London from DWF before promoting 15 partners globally in May an increase of six on last year. 

Attention will now turn to how RPC approaches the year ahead. Comments managing partner James Miller (pictured): ‘We finished the financial year very much on the front foot, and revenue generation levels have remained high during lockdown. Looking ahead, we have started the new financial year as positively as we ended the last one and I remain very optimistic that the future – despite considerable economic and political uncertainties and the challenges faced from Covid-19 – will bring exciting new opportunities with existing clients as well as new. 

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk 

Legal Business

Disputes perspectives: Geraldine Elliott

Disputes perspectives: Geraldine Elliott

I wanted a professional career. My father was a doctor but very keen I didn’t do medicine. I had a scientific background and law is a very analytical process. I’d watched a few television programmes about criminal lawyers.

Law was the right career for me. The life of doctors is very tough and there’s effectively one employer, whereas in law it’s easier for you to create a career because it’s constantly changing and there’s always something that can grab your interest. New people coming onto the market and changes in the competition make a massive difference.

Legal Business

RPC’s surprise partnership shake-up signals focus on next generation but is the firm still playing too safe?

RPC’s surprise partnership shake-up signals focus on next generation but is the firm still playing too safe?

Marco Cillario assesses the background to RPC’s decision to abandon all-equity structure

At a November press event held by a top-25 UK law firm, Legal Business was struck by a sudden spike in the guests’ interest in RPC. The 76-partner firm has long been a respected insurance and litigation business, and solid mid-weight operator, but not generally a firm to cause too many ripples of interest among peers.

Legal Business

RPC abandons all-equity structure in sweeping partnership shake-up

RPC abandons all-equity structure in sweeping partnership shake-up

Reversing a common trend among many City firms in recent years, RPC is to introduce the roles of fixed share and salaried partner for the first time in its history – a move the firm said reflected ‘changing expectations of people, market and client demand’.

However, the status of its current 76 equity partners will remain unchanged – the move only applies to future promotions and hires.

The UK top-40 firm announced today (19 November) it will move away from an all-equity partnership structure with immediate effect. ‘We’ve spent a lot of time listening to people’s expectations and considerations when it comes to their career progression; and listening to what’s happening in the wider market,’ said managing partner James Miller (pictured). ‘We’ve taken on board what we’ve heard and created a career structure that is right for our people and right for our clients, now and into the future.

‘Our all-equity structure has served us very well, but we know that the bar to achieving partnership here has been seen as very high. High standards are a good thing, of course, and that won’t change, but we saw the need to offer our people alternative career destinations with titles that reflect their seniority and value – value to clients and value to the business. These new roles give people a credible and recognisable alternative to full-equity partnership – if that’s the route they wish to take.’

The changes mean there will be five senior roles for lawyers at the firm: full equity, fixed share and salary partner, as well as of counsel and senior associate.

RPC has tightened its equity lately. It shrank its partner ranks by nine to 74 in 2018/19, resulting in a 27% growth in its profits per equity partner (PEP) to £442,000 in 2018/19, while revenue was £108.6m.

While a number of firms have in recent years have edged towards all-equity partnerships, RPC feels this approach tackles concerns in the industry around retaining senior associates and junior partners at a time when competition for talent is tough and several US firms offer quicker career paths to their lawyers. Kirkland & Ellis has long made a success of its strategy of promoting many associates to salary partner early before giving a selected few a shot at its tighter equity.

Miller concluded: ‘This new flexible partnership structure will broaden the pool of people we can bring in to the partnership to offer greater strength in depth for clients across our core areas of focus. The battle for talent is fierce. This new structure will help us to retain our best people, attract new talent, and deliver better outcomes for our clients.’

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Very encouraging’: RPC posts profit growth in shrinking partnership after splitting off consulting business

‘Very encouraging’: RPC posts profit growth in shrinking partnership after splitting off consulting business

RPC has reported revenues of £108.6m for its legal business for 2018/19 after selling half of its management consulting arm.

The firm, which offloaded 50% of RPC Consulting to software company Marriott Sinclair in April 2018, announced today (25 July) that both like-for-like revenue and net profit for its legal arm alone rose 4% in 2018/19.

The four-year-old consulting arm, meanwhile, increased turnover by 33% from around £7m to £9.3m in the year to April 2019 and turned a profit for the first time after losing £2m in the previous financial year.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) at the law firm was up a striking 27% to £442,000 in 2018/19, as its all-equity partnership shrank by nine to 74.

Direct comparisons with its 2017/18 results are difficult, as the consulting arm was still fully owned by the firm last year. They showed higher revenue of £112.7m but much lower profits and PEP at £28.9m and £348,000 respectively.

Speaking to Legal Business, chief financial officer Steven Rowan said he was ‘pretty pleased’ with the performance of RPC’s legal business. ‘We had a strong performance from our core areas: strong litigation, decent corporate activity and a solid performance from our insurance practice.’

The firm’s equity spread increased considerably in 2018/19 as the top of the equity shot up 40% from £1.2m to £1.7m, while the bottom of equity was marginally up 4% from £185,000 to £192,000. ‘We want to reward top performers at the firm, whether partners or associates, and the top of the equity reflects [this],’ added Rowan.

Launched in 2015, RPC Consulting was loss-making in its first three years of activity after receiving substantial investment from the partnership. Rowan said losses by RPC Consulting were ‘in line with what we were expecting because it was a near start-up business’.

As of 30 April 2018 the firm moved into a 50/50 joint-venture arrangement with Marriott Sinclair, a Cambridge software company that was previously acquired by RPC Consulting in July 2015.

‘RPC Consulting has moved into a new phase of growth, so we wanted to ensure that the relationship with the law firm was appropriate for the next stage of its development, and allow it to operate with more of a sense of independence,’ said Rowan. He added that the business was still in the process of finalising its profit figure for 2018/19 but it made a ‘very encouraging profit’.

He denied that the reduction in equity partner numbers was part of a strategic review: ‘People come and go.’ The firm added five laterals to its ranks this year and promoted six to its partnership but losses included its head of construction and projects Dan Presto, who moved to Fieldfisher alongside fellow partner David Thorne in addition to a team of five associates.

The firm recently announced an official alliance with Chicago-based law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, which will see the two firms work together on pitching and client marketing in the insurance sector as well as collaborating on professional indemnity mandates.

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk