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Colin Rodrigues, Managing partner

Managing partner Colin Rodrigues explains how Hawkins Hatton is adapting to clients' changing needs.

1. What do you see as the main points that differentiate Hawkins Hatton from your competitors

Every firm talks about service and cost effectiveness. However, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. Being a niche corporate practice allows HH to focus on SME clients only. SME Entrepreneurs are driven individuals who demand quality of service at all times, but as part of this they expect that service to be in a wrapper made up of commerciality and not a thin veneer of legal opinion without guidance.

2. Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months?

I see a lot of practices from London looking to establish a base outside London in order to leverage off the lower cost. What are the drivers behind that? The quality of clients.

3. What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Being a niche practice, we constantly evolve. As part of this evolution, we have always copied clients and their advisors into all emails, but now advice on transactional documents is presented in the format of a table which specifically allow clients to insert instructions and/or comments with regard to particular aspects of documents we produce for review by them. This innovative approach allows clients to scan risk areas and report back to us without having to worry about cumbersome reports.

4. Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology has always been a driver for our business, and being a niche practice, we have always leveraged off technology and we were one of the first to promote the use of electronic data rooms to share information rather than simply rely on email.

5. Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

A current client of HH who sold 20% of his business for £12m found the underwriter who bought into that business now no longer wants to provide underwriting facilities to the client. The underwriters are based in America and as part of this negotiation; we coordinated and prepared agendas for our client. We rehearsed calls with our client and their advisors so they were better able to present a way forward as part of the negotiation process. Notwithstanding there were CF advisors on board, we found an inventive solution to allow the client to standstill with the underwriter for a 6-month period, in order to allow them to work out the funding arrangements to buy out their underwriter/investor.

6. Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Without a doubt. Anybody can provide legal solutions; however the key is to ensure that the legal solution has been commercially thought through and presented in a way which allows the maximum chance for it to succeed.

I expect the firm will continue to provide the quality of service which has distinguished it from its competitors since its inception in 2005 however it will do so in wider legal markets including London. The firm already has a national client base and it is now focused on broadening that client base by launching an office in London in 2019.

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