An innovative U.K. law firm best known for combining legal and nonlegal business services is set to launch an antitrust practice with the hire of Shearman & Sterling counsel Collette Rawnsley.
Rawnsley, a barrister who previously held a senior role at the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal, a specialist judicial body, will join London-based Wiggin on Tuesday.Rawnsley’s practice covers contentious and noncontentious EU and U.K. competition law issues. She represented Microsoft in the European Commission’s Android investigation and has also acted for Nokia and Qualcomm in high-profile actions.
Wiggin Brussels office head Ted Shapiro said that the hire would allow the specialist media, technology and brands firm “to respond to our clients’ [intellectual property] and competition needs.” Shapiro pointed to the European Commission’s inquiry into the e-commerce sector and its investigation into pay-TV as evidence of the increasing overlap between these two practice areas.
Rawnsley, who will split her time between Wiggin’s offices in London and Brussels, said that “authorities across the globe are focusing on the interaction between competition law and technological innovation.”
Wiggin is perhaps best known for its innovative approach to the interaction of legal and complementary business services. In 2012, it became one of the first U.K. law firms to take advantage of new legislation permitting nonlawyer partners, converting to a so-called “alternative business structure” (ABS) and appointing professional manager John Banister as CEO. ABSs are also able to accept external equity investment, which has fueled massive revenue growth at some U.K. law firms, although such deals remain rare.
The firm has since launched a series of nonlegal ventures and in 2016 won the Future of Legal Services category at the Legal Week Innovation Awards. Big Law firms are increasingly moving beyond pure legal services in an attempt to strengthen client relationships, differentiate themselves from competitors and access new sources of revenue.
Wiggin earlier this year launched an executive production services company called Viewfinder and opened an office in Los Angeles to help source finance and distribution for movie producers and rights-holders. The firm has already acted as executive producer on a number of major movies, including “The History Boys” and 2015′s “The Lady in the Van.”
The firm also operates its own on-demand TV channel that has carriage contracts across Europe, and has developed a technology product that scours the internet for brand and copyright infringement on behalf of clients. Intelligent Content Protection, which was financed by luxury brand owner Compagnie Financière Richemont SA and owned by the firm’s equity partners, took on external financing in 2015 and now employs more than 40 system developers, analysts and salespeople.