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03 April 2020

Leading Hong Kong lawyer Kevin Bowers launches boutique

Founding partner of Howse Williams Bowers strikes out on his own after 2019 court case

Portrait of Kevin Bowers

Kevin Bowers: 'The absence of hourly rates is crucial and will set us apart from the market.'

Former Howse Williams Bowers (HWB) name partner Kevin Bowers has launched his own boutique which will operate under a fixed fee model for all types of work.

Bowers.law’s billing structure will be value-based with clients offered a flat rate, staged fees or a retainer model where a set price is agreed for repeat work.

The firm boasts a team of five associates and three consultants as well as its own crisis management arm, alinea.

The move comes five months after Bowers was acquitted of perverting the course of justice. The high-profile prosecution centred on two short without prejudice conversations during a civil case that took place in 2010 when Bowers was a partner at Richards Butler.

Bowers said he believed the fact he had subsequently been granted a costs order meant the prosecution should never have been brought.

He left Howes Williams — which he co-founded in 2011 when a large team of lawyers quit Reed Smith Richards Butler — in December 2018 and had been working as a consultant at Tanner De Witt in the run up to the boutique launch.

He said: “My departure from Tanner De Witt was amicable and we will share work. But, having been a founding partner of HWB, I wanted to do something on my own again. This time I don’t want to build a large firm. I want this to be a smaller, more nimble business.

“The absence of hourly rates is crucial and will set us apart from the market. We’re even doing this for disputes work and I think we’re the only firm offering this pricing structure for that.”

Bowers has almost 30 years of commercial dispute resolution experience behind him, with more than two decades of that spent in Hong Kong. 

As well as focusing on dispute resolution, the new firm’s practice areas will include employment, insurance, fraud, crisis management, tax, corporate and commercial law.

Bowers said: “We are a team of legal and reputational problem solvers. Experience, proactivity, creativity and most of all tenacity are what we promise our clients. As a new, independent Hong Kong law firm, we have minimal conflicts of interests and can advise corporate and individual clients across the spectrum of transactional and dispute resolution work.”

Bowers started his career at Masons in the early 90s before moving to Deacons in Hong Kong in 1997. He later joined Richards Butler shortly before its merger with Reed Smith.

He cites UK corporate and employment law boutique TandonHildebrand, which was set up in 2018 by former Trowers & Hamlins partners Tania Tandon and Richard Hildebrand as an inspiration.

Hildebrand, who was at university with Bowers, said in a LinkedIn post: “We believe the chargeable hour is the past and not the future. We dropped the chargeable hour model two years ago and have been eagerly waiting for firms to follow. There is now one more! Hong Kong’s newest law firm bowers.law.”

The launch of bowers.law comes at a time of significant upheaval in Hong Kong, which has been dogged by anti-government protests and the spread of the coronavirus. 

Last month Orrick said it was closing its four-partner Hong Kong office after a failed attempt to build a technology and innovation practice in the city.

Further reading:

Magnusson co-founder leaves firm to launch advisory business

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