Peter Burgess has left Withers to set up his own family law boutique, Burgess Mee.
Hughes Fowler Carruthers and Levison Meltzer Pigott are examples of how good family law boutiques can be. But they were started by seasoned veterans like Frances Hughes and Simon Pigott so, you ask, how successful can similar shops started by those with half the experience be?
That’s the question that Peter Burgess, aged 32, is currently tackling. Having handed his notice in at Withers in November, he’s just set up Burgess Mee, a two-partner boutique offering family law advice on money, pre-nups and child issues from Battersea.
The good news is that Burgess has all the credentials that a youngster can hope for. During his decade at 16 Old Bailey, he was lucky enough to be involved in more landmark cases than most veterans enjoy in a career, from Charman v Charman (still the largest payout that’s gone through the courts) to Imerman v Tchenguiz (which ruled that spouses cannot base their claims on financial information obtained covertly).
‘In straitened times,’ says Burgess (pictured left), ‘clients are looking to make savings wherever they can. We have the same (or more) experience than we did at Withers, but we are currently 40% cheaper than we were six months ago.
‘We expect most of our clients to be middle class professionals, entrepreneurs and City workers, and their partners, but not at the level of the UHNWs we acted for at Withers,’ he continues. ‘There might also be a tactical advantage in instructing us where, for example, a client wants to plead poverty and having a big name law firm behind them like Withers or Payne Hicks Beach would be inconsistent with their own case.’
Much of this work gets referred from the leading lights in the City — the Diana Parkers, Julian Lipsons and Mark Harpers — so Burgess and his co-founder, Antonia Mee, are lucky to have such eminent connections.
It seems likely therefore that the Nottingham graduate can follow in the footsteps of Camilla Baldwin, another Withers associate who set up a successful London boutique, to fill a hole in the market and challenge the established order.