Quentin Solt's home page
Keeping things simple: focus on the important
I am a corporate finance and commercial lawyer, with a primary focus on M&A, venture and investment work. I have offices in Warwick (where I live with my family) and in the City.
I trained with Pinsent & Co (now Pinsent Masons) and joined the corporate team at Berwin Leighton (now Berwin Leighton Paisner) in 1990.
During 1992 I was seconded to the firm’s insolvency group after the partner who was then in charge of the team moved to another firm. I returned to the corporate team in 1994 where I initiated and led BLP’s corporate finance technology practice. I believe that this was the first UK practice in the City to focus on providing M&A and investment advice to technology companies.
I am an able technical lawyer, however I prefer the client recognition that I “get deals done” – safely and cost effectively.
In 2002, having decided to escape the City regime, I established my own firm, Quentin Solt LLB.
Quentin Solt LLB
My objective is to provide a cost effective and personal service, of a quality and at a speed that is often better than those provided by City firms.
My clients are my best testament. References are available.
Fees: the first question clients want to address, the last most lawyers want to answer. No apologies for putting it up front. Whilst I do work on the traditional recorded hours basis (particularly at the outset of an assignment whilst trying to get a handle on what will be involved), I prefer to work on a monthly retainer basis for routine work and then on a fixed fee arrangement for discrete projects, sometimes with a success uplift. With some clients I agree to accept a part of my fees in equity.
I recognize that it is often important for businesses to be able to budget for costs. Fixed fee arrangements align interests and lead to more efficient working practices. My work requires me to be thorough, and I prefer not to have clients thinking that I am burning their money when I double check things.
For many clients lawyers are an (expensive) distress purchase or “necessary evil”. I have coined the expression “bumnip” to describe the near inevitable unexpected cost associated with retaining any professional adviser - the cost that was clearly stated in the engagement terms, but one that the client simply did not appreciate at the outset. I try to avoid imposing the bumnip experience on my clients – so long as my clients are aware that I charge my fees, out of pocket disbursements and VAT, there should be no hidden costs.
I do not employ juniors. I believe that not having to train others improves the service I provide, cuts down on wasted time and ultimately saves clients money.
The absence of juniors may be construed as a disadvantage since I do not have a “cheap” resource who can handle routine work for a lower price. I hope that fixed fee arrangements and sub-contracting company secretarial services address this concern.
Most of my clients are best characterised as “substantial start-ups”, with a majority operating technology businesses (including internet, software and biotech). I also have clients in investment, financial advisory, insurance, real estate, engineering, media, construction and medical sectors.
I tend to work very closely with my clients, commonly accepting appointment as an officer of the company (director or company secretary). When appointed as company secretary, I recommend that a professional company secretarial service is retained to ensure that filings and statutory books are maintained cost efficiently. Being present at board meetings allows me to work with my client companies and understand their dynamics, which substantially improves my ability to offer appropriate advice.
Most lawyers claim to “add value”. I believe that the best value lawyers can add is by doing our job quickly and efficiently, putting legal advice into the commercial context, giving the benefit of relevant experience and, where appropriate, introducing new ideas and contacts.
There are areas that I don’t handle myself (notably tax, real estate, employment, IP and contentious matters). To the extent necessary, I work with other specialist advisers. Where appropriate I recommend that a specialist City law firm is retained.
My drafting style
“Legalese” is often more confusing than it is helpful. I like to produce documents which are drafted in simple terms. It is important to me that clients should understand what the documents they sign are actually saying. Where things are unclear to the client, or where a client is uncomfortable with the way things are phrased, I re-write them. Often the process of re-writing reveals issues which were obscured by the original text.
Lawyers and their clients each have a responsibility to ensure that they share information to allow them to understand the commercial implications and potential risks and issues of proposed arrangements, so that they can debate relevant issues from an informed position. Only when issues are properly understood can they properly be debated with the other side.
As a lawyer, it is not my job to prevent clients from taking informed commercial risks. My job is to help clients to assess the nature and potential scale of the risks which they agree to accept.
I know that lawyers’ failure to communicate with their own clients can result in commercially irrelevant arguments (commonly between lawyers without reference to the clients at all) delaying finalisation of legal documentation and increasing costs and frustrations. I am a qualified mediator and, when requested to do so by my clients, I try to use these skills to accelerate resolution where commercial interests appear to diverge.
Whilst at BLP I conceived and established a SAAS-(Software as a Service) based venture designed to commoditise the delivery of services to small clients. I concluded negotiations for Deloitte to co-invest in the business and launched www.beprofessional.com. I continue to be actively involved with the business.
I also co-founded Eurovestech plc, an investment company, and listed it on AIM. I remain on the board of Eurovestech.
I advised Silicon Valley based OCZ Technology, Inc. on its AIM listing and am now a main board director of the company. We are currently filing Form 10 to seek a listing in the United States.
I have contributed to several leading legal practice books, including precedents, transaction checklists and guides to legislation. I authored and update several chapters to Sweet & Maxwell’s leading multi-volume Directors: Law and Liability reference work.
I am a guest lecturer at the Cranfield School of Management’s Business Growth Programme and the school’s MBA course and have lectured at CASS (the City of London business School) on the structuring of private equity transactions. The Financial Times published a report on corporate venturing that I co-wrote with a Professor from Cranfield School of Management. I have also worked closely with the Investor Relations Society, and have been published in the society’s magazine.
As a result of dealing with the firm on the “other side”, I was invited to join the London office of US based law Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman. I declined but held a consultancy role from 2003 to 2007, when we recruited a new, full time, corporate team. I continue to work with Pillsbury on an informal consulting basis.
Most of my instructions come from personal referrals.
Areas of expertise include: mergers, acquisitions, buying and selling companies, public listings, funding rounds, private equity (pe), venture capital (vc), joint ventures, shareholders' agreements, mediation, terms and conditions, heads of agreement, negotiations, funds, insolvency, bankruptcy, directors' liabilities and duties, Companies Act, articles and company constitutions).
I am based in the City of London and in Warwick and may be contacted by email here or by telephone +44 1926 808080.