Litigation-only firm avoiding internal conflicts as it grows

ALL being well, you won’t get to see the inside of Stewarts Law’s offices in Leeds city centre.

Which is a shame because it makes a point of priding itself on its manners, but beneath the friendly faces and handshakes lies a litigation-only firm that seeks out conflict.
“We tend to do one-off pieces of work, the ‘bet-the-farm’ type of litigation,” said Mo Bhaskaran, partner and head of commercial litigation in Leeds. “People here like the fight and getting results for clients.”
Kate Pollock, commercial litigation partner, added: “We do sit in a really unique position in the Leeds market. We are only after the once-every-five-years piece of litigation.
“We provide a good service to other law firms – it’s a very clever business model.”
Stewarts Law has been in Leeds for 11 years, and was formed in London 25 years’ ago. Its competition litigation department was opened in 2009 by Leeds-based former Eversheds partner Jonathan Sinclair and boosted by the recruitment of Mr Bhaskaran from Pinsent Masons in 2013 to head commercial litigation.
It continues to look at ways it can grow, while continuing “turn a lot of work away because it is not high value enough”.
Mr Bhaskaran said: “Medium-term we have a three-year plan to grow, this is on track. The firm is always looking for areas we can add, such as tax litigation which is a practice we launched relatively recently.
“We want to handle the biggest claims and being the people that are sorting things out for those clients.”
The consolidation that is taking place across the sector is seen as an advantage for Stewarts Law, because of the way it helps to differentiate its offer from full-service firms.
“It makes it easier because it show our unique proposition,” said Mr Bhaskaran. “We are not getting that many of the newly-formed boutiques being swallowed up, in fact more are being set up.
“Since I left a full-service firm, people talk to me about how it’s easier to know what I do now.”
Ms Pollock, who previously worked at Wragge & Co and Walker Morris before joining Stewarts four years ago, said: “What I love here is what we don’t have. There’s almost always a tension between big-hitting departments in full service firms, there’s also the time-old issue of conflicts.
“We are a lot more nimble because we don’t have conflicts.”
– Read’s review of the Yorkshire legal sector this Thursday, following the publication of the 2015 Legal 500