Number of lawyers in team: 75
Legal directory rankings: 9
Q&A with corporate lawyer Simon Holden, who joined in 2018 from Kerman & Co
When and how did you hear about Keystone and what were your initial thoughts?
Keystone started creating waves several years ago, and I began to see the firm’s name (not to mention its lawyers) appear on more corporate deals. For me personally, the culmination was its listing on AIM. The brand recognition this generated was instantaneous, and you can see from its share price performance, especially compared against law firm peers, how external investors buy into the successful business model. My initial thoughts of the firm prior to this was ‘It’s not for me’, whereas now it is ‘If only I knew then what I know now’.
Since joining Keystone, is the firm what you expected or different? And how?
It’s completely different to my initial expectations. I often joke with colleagues about my view of Keystone several years ago, which was a firm populated with an older generation of lawyers enjoying life as opposed to work. This could not be further from the truth. The firm boasts a wide range of exceptionally talented senior-level lawyers, the collaborative efforts of whom is something I have not witnessed in the more traditional setting. Essentially, Keystone offers lawyers something they should find in that setting but rarely do.
How long did it take you to transition to the firm and how would you describe the first few weeks/months and the support available?
I felt at home before officially joining the firm, which was in large part due to the collegiate efforts espoused by the Central Office management team. The transition was seamless and the level of support from the back-office team, and other lawyers within the firm, was and has consistently remained at a pleasingly high standard.
How would you describe the Corporate team and your colleagues in this area?
An incredible collection of senior-level lawyers, capable of working on a plethora of transactions ranging from start-ups to large publicly quoted companies. The team is richly endowed with a first-in-class collective ethos, accompanied with a strong dose of good humour.
With the support team based in a different location to you, how have you found this and how does it compare to a traditional firm?
The support team are so responsive that you can easily forget they are (sometimes) based in a different location and supporting nearly 400 lawyers. Getting support in a traditional firm would take days but at Keystone it's a matter of hours.
How did your clients feel about your move? Has the way you worked with them changed and where/how do you meet with them?
They were incredibly supportive and have been impressed at the deep level of cross-disciplinary expertise. I have acted for clients who I might not have been previously able to because of a lack of this level of expertise, which has been very rewarding.
Since joining, I have been able to devote far more time to clients, specifically as a lot of my time is no longer taken up with internal meetings, which has been a welcome breath of fresh air for me and them alike.
Do you ever refer work to colleagues and is there any benefit in doing so?
I have referred work to several colleagues across our practice groups, most notably our first-class gambling and regulatory team. Because of the deep pool of expertise available within the firm, it is relatively easy to offer clients the full suite of services they need. My clients do not simply require corporate law advice, they require a whole mix of advice to suit their individual business needs. A principal benefit of Keystone life is being able to tell a client that you can help them on a particular matter rather than you cannot.
Have you needed to enlist support from other colleagues on matters and how did that work?
I needed to enlist the help of both our gambling and corporate tax teams to advise leading Australian lottery provider Jumbo Interactive on its recent acquisition of UK-based lottery operator Gatherwell. Because of the cross-border nature of the transaction and the significant time difference involved, the transaction could have been challenging. However, principally due to working with incredibly responsive and proactive colleagues, not to mention an exceptionally good client, the transaction was anything but.
How would you describe the social life at Keystone? Are there any events or highlights from events that you are happy to share?
Rarely have I met fellow lawyers who don’t thrive in social settings, and this is certainly the case for Keystone lawyers. Whilst possibly biased, I do believe we socialise better than most. The regular social functions at Keystone are not something I had initially catered for, but I am pleased to now take for granted!
Has your life changed since moving to Keystone and if so, how?
It sounds like a cliché but life on the whole has vastly improved. The breath of fresh air which Keystone has provided on the work front has impacted other facets of my life, all for the better. The increased autonomy and responsibility has imbued in me a newfound enthusiasm to work ever closer with clients and colleagues alike for a more mutually rewarding outcome.
What advice would you give to a corporate lawyer thinking of joining Keystone?
At the end of the day, it is no different to joining any other firm and you should do your homework as you would in any other situation. Ask to speak to other lawyers to give you a clear perspective on what life at Keystone is like, although do bear in mind that we’re all very evangelical about the firm. If you are a self-starter, with a keen sense of collaboration and business development, Keystone will fit like a made-to-measure work suit.