Temple Bright shakes up turnaround market with big-name hire

Bristol law firm Temple Bright has added another practice area to its operations with the arrival of insolvency and turnaround specialist Phil Winterborne from Clarke Willmott.

Phil will head a new insolvency and turnaround practice based in Temple Bright’s Bristol office. He expects much of his work to come from companies based in the South West, Wales and London – complementing Temple Bright’s long-term focus on Bristol, the wider South West and the capital.

Phil worked for leading City firm Linklaters before joining Osborne Clarke in Bristol in 2001. He moved to Clarke Willmott in 2008 and has been ranked in the top tier by Chambers UK for his work in insolvency, while also being described by the Legal 500 as “a national leader” who is “clever and personable and gets the job done”.

His appointment takes Temple Bright to 22 partners across its Bristol and London offices.

Phil said: “What’s particularly exciting for me in joining Temple Bright is the natural fit with the expertise of the wider team, spanning both offices.

“I continue to handle insolvencies in many different contexts, but what has been a particular focus in more recent years is the restructuring and turnaround of ailing businesses. Very often my turnaround and insolvency instructions will see me pulling in expert help from elsewhere within the firm and from other professionals around the region.”

Phil believes Temple Bright’s use of fixed or capped fees for certain types of work is an excellent fit with the needs of distressed businesses, which have to be able to budget for, and carefully manage, costs.

“I know already, based on my 15 years of experience, the value that comes from providing certainty on fees,” he said. “It puts Temple Bright on the front foot time and again.”

Temple Bright co-founder Tim Summers said creating an insolvency and turnaround practice was “a natural next step” for the firm as it continues to develop its offering.

He is particularly pleased to welcome Phil because of his strong links with the South West’s insolvency professionals.

“I know the appointment of Phil will help us to build on our already strong links with our partners among Bristol’s professional community,” he said.

Temple Bright opened in Bristol in 2010 and launched an office in London’s Tech City district, on the northern fringe of the City, a year ago. The London office now has six partners – all from leading City firms – to add to Temple Bright’s growing roster of 16 partners in Bristol, and the founders are in discussions with further corporate lawyers in London.

The firm operates what it calls a “chambers practice” – a solicitors’ firm structured like a barristers’ chambers – meaning that it can promise exclusively senior lawyers and fixed fees.

Tim added: “The other element that sets us apart, of course, is the quality of our people, and Phil exemplifies this.

“His background at Linklaters, one of the country’s top law firms, speaks volumes. Other recent joiners have also come from top-tier firms, like Dan Pearce, who qualified at Slaughter and May, and Kirsten Younger, who was at Freshfields.

“We are a natural home for these Magic Circle lawyers looking to work to the same high standard but in a different way. It means we are increasingly working for larger commercial clients now, as well as the smaller entrepreneurial clients we have always supported.”

This article appeared in the Bristol Business Newsletter on 7 March 2014.