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History of Field Fisher Waterhouse

The history of the firm can be traced back almost two centuries and its structure has changed significantly in that time. The main mergers, which created the firm in its current form, happened within living memory. Many of the partners and staff who originally started with one of the legacy firms, which went on to form Field Fisher Waterhouse, are still working for the firm.

Field Fisher Waterhouse was created in 1989 following the merger of Waterhouse & Co and Field Fisher Martineau. Both firms moved from their original offices and came together to the Vine Street premises in London in June 1990.

Waterhouse & Co was originally located near St Paul's Cathedral and in 1971 there were just nine partners. At this time all law firms were fairly small as up until 1968 law firms were not permitted to have more than twenty partners.

Shell was a key client of Waterhouse & Co at the time and the firm worked on all Shell’s real estate deals, in particular its move to the Shell building in the 1950s. It was the firm’s relationship with Shell which led to the development of the Japanese desk following a recommendation by Shell to Mitsubishi Bank.

Field Fisher Martineau was located at Lincoln’s Inn House in Holborn, close to Red Lion Square, a very convenient location for the law courts. In 1990, the firm moved to Minories in Aldgate.

The last major addition to the firm took place in 1998 when Allison & Humphreys (A&H) merged with Field Fisher Waterhouse.

A&H was a leading media and communications specialist and therefore complemented Field Fisher Waterhouse’s technology expertise. The BBC was one of the key clients that A&H lawyers brought with them to the firm.



In June 2006 Field Fisher Waterhouse converted to LLP status. In 2007 the firm took its first steps in to Europe. In April 2007 offices were set up in Brussels and Hamburg and the shortly after in November 2007 an office in Paris was established. The firm has since gone from strength to strength hiring over 40 laterals in the last three years. In 2011 there was the opening of the new German office in Munich and in 2012 the Palo Alto office was set up. The last major appointments were in March 2013, when Matthew Lohn was appointed as the Senior Partner and Michael Chissick was appointed to take up the post of Managing Partner.

In September 2012 an office in Silicon Valley, the heart of the world's high tech industry, Palo Alto, California was set up. In 2013 Field Fisher Ryser was launched in Shanghai.

Some interesting facts about Field Fisher Waterhouse (and its predecessor firms)

  • One partner was the UK’s leading copyright lawyer, acting for Joseph Conrad, Arnold Bennett and Rudyard Kipling.
  • Theodore Waterhouse’s younger brother set up Price Waterhouse.
  • A Zeppelin bomb landed on the firm’s offices in 1916 - but did not explode.
  • The Martineaus (as in Field Fisher Martineau) were active in campaigning to abolish slavery and collaborated with Florence Nightingale on health care.
  • The firm used to organise the opera season at Covent Garden from its offices.
  • One partner rowed for Oxford in the boat race and won.
  • The Martineau family owned a sugar refinery and set up long term supply arrangements with Whitbread for both sugar (for its alcohol) and its legal advice.
  • The CBI (then the FBI) was set up by a partner of the firm.
  • Philip Martineau’s sister was the 19th century’s leading female political economist and a close friend of Carlyle.
  • Theodore Waterhouse’s older brother designed the Natural History Museum and Prudential building.
  • There used to be offices in Brixton, Kilburn, Victoria, Brussels, Edgware and Golders Green.
  • At least two members of the firm have been knighted.
  • The Waterhouse canteen had its origins during the blitz when the telephonist installed a gas ring in the telephone room and fed all the staff.
  • The NAAFI was set up by a partner during the first world war.