Interview with Mark Shaw on the Wildgen London Office
Why has Wildgen decided to open in London now?
Wildgen is 95 years old, but the legal market and our client-base have developed in recent years. The UK was becoming an increasing source of business for us, so it was a natural progression to open a London office in order for us to be able to service those clients better.
So, ultimately, it is about proving better client service. In a time when people are moving increasingly online, in a relationship business, we think it’s actually more important to have a physical presence. The demands that clients are facing are no less significant, and it’s a vital aspect of client care to be able to have boots on the ground, so -for example- we could be with a client at extremely short notice.
Inevitably there is also a Brexit aspect, and we are receiving a lot of queries from clients about what options are available in order for them to continue to operate of a cross-border basis in Europe after Brexit. However, regardless of the ultimate outcome of Brexit, the UK legal market will continue to be hugely important to Wildgen, and we hope to see continued growth in our UK client-base.
Coming from in-house as a funds lawyer, I’ve been a buyer of legal services for a long time from a variety of firms across a number of jurisdictions, so I think that helps us in terms of offering a perspective that is more closely aligned to that of our clients than you would otherwise have from a private practice lawyer.
Being an in-house lawyer forces you to be more of a generalist, which also helps here, as I’m representing a range of services.
We are a full-service firm in Luxembourg, but inevitably there are some of our services that are of more use, value or interest to UK clients than others. Funds is clearly one of these, and that’s my background area, so it’s a logical starting point for growth.
The firm could have used one its existing Luxembourg lawyers to set-up the London office, like many foreign law firms do, but not only would this have missed the advantage of having a more generalised approach, but also the advantage of having a native Anglo-Saxon as a client touch point. This is a big point for us: as a firm, our default language is English, but we still recognise the nuances between the best English-speaking French or German and a native. Excellence matters, so this mitigates even the slightest risk of miscommunication.
Will you open elsewhere?
It’s fair to say that will depend on the success of this launch, although our approach to different jurisdictions depends on the idiosyncrasies of each jurisdiction. For example, we have a German desk in Luxembourg with 3 Rechtsanwält, which is very important to our German clients. By contrast, for many of our English clients, it’s important to make it clear that we don’t (and won’t) practice English law. We are also building-out our French desk; again, this is in Luxembourg because the physical proximity to France allows this.