Julien Martinet made headlines this week by leaving Hogan Lovells, one of the world’s largest law firms, to start his own specialist lawyer, Swift Litigation – and taking his entire team of lawyers with him.
Martinet’s departure from Hogan Lovell came after former Boies Schiller Flexner partner Natasha Harrison left the New York litigator to start her own “modern” law firm, Pallas Partners, taking 27 of the 33 lawyers with her.
Speaking to City AM, Martinet said he saw his decision to leave Hogan Lovells and start his own firm as just the “logical next step” in his career as a lawyer.
“In large companies, you can acquire the techniques necessary to succeed in this profession,” says Martinet. “But after 20 years I have gained the experience and now have the ambition to fly under my own wings and do things my way.”
Martinet adds that as a specialized law firm, Swift Litigation will be able to offer its clients a more personalized service.
“With an independent law firm, you can focus on exactly what your clients want,” says Martinet.
Nevertheless, Martinet says that working in large companies can be a “rewarding experience, also in monetary terms”.
After earning a master’s degree at Oxford University and completing his law studies in Paris, the Frenchman joined New York litigator Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, where he spent the first 15 years of his career, before joining the French firm Jeantat and joining Hogan Lovells. two years later.
Martinet says that as a child he spent eight years in Djibouti, where both of his parents worked as lawyers, before moving to Lyon to study at university.
He notes that he still enjoys working in Africa, even though the majority of his clients are from Europe.
Battle for talent
Martinet’s decision to launch Swift Litigation has drawn press attention to the fact that the lawyer will be taking his entire team of six lawyers with him.
As he launches his new business, Martinet says he will also continue to work with his clients – including major banks and financial institutions – as he explains that he has brought his clients to Hogan Lovells and will take his clients with him in Swift startup.
When starting a law firm, Martinet says it’s vitally important to have a “good relationship” with the “lawyers on your team.” As such, he was adamant that he would take his entire team with him.
Martinet was also clear that he needed the right people. “Our clients expect high-level expertise from us,” said the lawyer, explaining that the work he does is very complex and requires highly qualified professionals.
However, the French lawyer claims that by seeking to poach his team, he was not necessarily able to offer his lawyers better salaries.
“At Hogan Lovells, they were already very well paid, so I don’t pay them more than they would in this kind of firm, but we kept the same remuneration”, explains the lawyer.
Martinet could, however, offer his team more time, freedom and independence.
“People aren’t just motivated by money,” says Martinet. “They value the independence.”
The lawyer says that due to the specialist nature of his new firm, lawyers can devote more time to their work and take a more “considered” approach to work.
The comments come after US law firm Milbank sparked a new bidding war for legal talent last month, after offering newly qualified lawyers salaries of $215,000 (£160,000) a year.
The exorbitant salaries have drawn criticism from experienced lawyers, who have warned that the expectations placed on young lawyers will see them burn out before the age of 30.
Looking ahead, Martinet says he hopes to do more side hires and also plans to bring in juniors.