Having only started trading this February, innovative U.K. fixed-price legal services business Riverview Law is already set to expand internationally by establishing a practice in the United States.
Riverview, which is part-owned by DLA Piper and whose parent company, LawVest, has DLA joint CEO Sir Nigel Knowles as nonexecutive chairman, will formally open a small outpost in New York later this week.
Riverview chief operating office Adam Shutkever tells The Am Law Daily that the fledgling company “aims to change the way businesses use, measure and buy legal services” by offering fixed-price litigation packages with annual and multiyear contracts. Among the ways Riverview has distinguished itself in the United Kingdom is by retaining the services of both attorneys and barristers—specialist advocates who are typically appointed by law firms on behalf of clients to represent them in court. (Barristers generally operate independently from attorneys as part of stand-alone “chambers.”)
The firm will not offer U.S. law advice, instead targeting American clients and law firms that require representation in the U.K. on an entirely fixed-fee basis.
“We believe that there is significant demand from U.S. clients for simpler and cost-certain access to the English legal system,” Shutkever says. “The volume of cross-border activity, along with the impact of extraterritorial legislation such as the Bribery Act and Enterprise Act, means that many international corporations and professionals have a regular need for advice and representation in the English system, yet are often frustrated by the inefficiency of having to appoint, separately, both solicitors and barristers. At Riverview, we have removed these inefficiencies.”
Several members of the Riverview team already have experience in working on U.S. matters. In the first-ever joint U.K.–U.S. monitorship approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Riverview international practice head Richard Lissack QC was last June appointed alongside senior Hughes Hubbard & Reed partner Kevin Abikoff to serve as a corporate monitor of international specialty chemicals company Innospec. Riverview’s Andrew Spink QC, who also chairs the North American Committee of the Commercial Bar Association, meanwhile, recently acted in two high-profile cases related to pension-scheme funding, including one involving the U.S. holding company of bankrupt financial services firm Lehman Brothers and several of its subsidiaries.
Riverview’s new U.S. office will be headed by Andy Daws, who joins the firm from his position as client director at U.K.–based human resources and employment outsourcer AdviserPlus Business Solutions, which, like DLA, is a minority LawVest shareholder.
“The interest we have received since arriving in America has been incredible,” Daws says. “There is a real appetite to eliminate the duplication of effort and open-ended nature of costs often associated with the English legal system. In the current economic climate, our proposition represents a rare win-win for general counsel and law firms here who are seeking assurance on both cost and quality.”