A new law firm has opened its doors in Hong Kong, promising an innovative practice model that is better suited to the needs of in-house counsel than traditional law firms.
GPS Legal’s founding partners are Phillip Georgiou, Sonny Payne and Brett Stewien, who have all left large private practice firms to create the new venture. The firm has dubbed its business model as GPS Flex, which aims to provide a nimble approach to staffing that ensures premium advice and allows for market-driven fee arrangements.
“Outside counsel is increasingly being engaged to bring to bear specific experience that supplements and supports sophisticated in-house teams at an acceptable price,” said Georgiou. “Clients have little, if any, tolerance for young lawyers learning on the job, let alone at the clients’ expense. GPS Flex allows us to develop carefully managed teams and deploy technology that reduces the major resource and price inefficiencies of traditional law firms.”
As In-House Community polling has shown, clients also resent paying for needlessly expensive offices in Hong Kong’s prime Central district, and in keeping with this GPS has set up shop in Quarry Bay.
Initially, the firm aims to focus on advising clients in the energy, infrastructure, technology, life sciences and consumer industries. Georgiou and Payne moved from Houston-based energy firm Baker Botts, where they represented clients at the front end and contentious side of energy and infrastructure projects, particularly in the field of international arbitration.
Stewien is a corporate lawyer who joined from the Hong Kong office of UK law firm Addleshaw Goddard, where he led the M&A practice across Asia. He predominantly acts for mid-market international companies engaged in regional M&A and joint ventures, with a particular focus on China.
Through GPS Flex, the firm will staff large or complex disputes and transactions with appropriately experienced consulting lawyers and barristers, who are integrated into the firm through cloud-based and encrypted document management systems and e-discovery platforms.
“GPS Flex allows us to structure the right teams for complex transactions with a high degree of price certainty,” said Stewien. “At the same time, our principle of hands-on partner involvement including careful project planning and management remain paramount.”
Hong Kong-qualified lawyers Dan Plane and Helen Tang, from IP consultancy Simone Intellectual Property Services, have also joined the team as consultants to litigate civil IP matters before the Hong Kong courts.
The firm is looking to add more senior industry and practice specialists with the aim of matching the “bench strength of similar industry-focused practices at international law firms in Asia”, it says.