New boutique firm Charles Lyndon promises associates chance to build own practice

ew boutique firm Charles Lyndon article

The upcoming launch of boutique litigation firm Charles Lyndon promises associates the chance to start up their own practices while learning from experienced lawyers from a wealth of backgrounds.

For many lawyers striking the perfect work-life balance has become a key priority in their professional careers. The legal market has attempted to address this issue in numberous ways, not least law firms’ adoption of flexible working schemes and the formation of virtual law firms like Excello Law.

Charles Lyndon founder and former Baker & McKenzie associate Rodger Burnett believes he can offer associates a better work-life balance than if they had joined a commercial law firm. Burnett’s idea began while working on a consultant basis at Excello Law and Setfords Solicitors. Excello’s lawyers work from home or its clients’ offices in order to keep its costs low. In 2013 the firm received investment from Dragon’s Den star James Caan.

“The vast majority of the people at these firms,” says Burnett, “seem to be coming towards the end of their career and want some freedom but they also have an established client base they can take with them to these law firms.

“I think companies like Excello, Setfords and Keystone cater for that kind of individual who already has an established client base. What I don’t think is catered for in the market is people at associate level who don’t necessarily want private practice, want a proper work-life balance but don’t have a well established client base that they can take with them.”

Charles Lyndon looks to address this problem by providing its lawyers with a steady stream of clients. It will do this by recommending clients from its sister company, Japanese Knotweed Claims.

The claims company specialises in winning compensation for people whose property value has decreased due to the presence of the intrusive weed.

Due to the high number of clients the company has attracted Burnett brought in former Linklaters associate Dorothea Antzoulatos to act as the company’s second director.

Burnett and Antzoulatos have similar legal backgrounds but are unusual in that they both began their careers as barristers within London chambers before becoming associates within some of the UK’s top law firms. The pair then moved into consultancy work at Excello before launching Charles Lyndon.

The firm also hired former Barclays and HSBC in-house lawyer Rohit Bhandari as director of business development within the firm. Bhandari’s background will help the firm as it diversifies away from the specialised knotweed claims market and focuses on claims relating to the mis-selling of financial products.

The clients for this type of work will derive from a second company created by Burnett called Equity Claims Management, which is set to launch at the same time as Charles Lyndon. It will focus on claims surrounding flight delays, professional negligence and the mis-selling of financial products.

“A lot of the stuff we do at the moment is claimant work,” says Burnett, “so if we’re going to be looking at the mis-selling of interest rate swaps and the mis-selling of pensions it’s really useful to have Dorothea and Rohit’s background and experience.

“They have a very good understanding on how banks and other commercial entities look at litigation and the risk profiles the banks are running and it gives them an insight into how banks and big organisations settle claims.”

The experience Antzoulatos, Burnett and Bhandari are able to offer will be vital for the success of Charles Lyndon, both during its launch at the beginning of October and while it expands its client base. For associates, the firm offers an interesting opportunity to work more independently at developing a new practice without the need of a pre-established client base.

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