Commercial law firm Gateley have made history today in becoming the first UK-based law firm to float on the stock market.

The move will undoubtedly be followed very closely by other players in the industry who may also consider floatation if things go well for the firm.

In papers filed with the stock exchange, it was disclosed that the firm's seven partners will split £20m of shares while another 105.2 million ordinary shares will make up the firm's initial public offering. This represents around a 30% stake in the firm.

Legal market guru Alan Hodgart, of Hodgart Associates, predicted that up to half a dozen top-200 law firms outside the top 25 could follow Gateley’s lead in the next two years. ‘Flotation could appeal to firms who do not want to borrow too much or put in too much capital, but still want to expand by acquiring new firms,’ he said.

The very biggest firms are unlikely to see the appeal of new capital, he suggested. ‘Another key issue that partners worry about is “what happens to my profit share if we sell, say 49% of the firm?”.’

It has been suggested that if things go well, Gateley could find themselves subjected to a 'reverse takeover' within the space of 5 years, perhaps by a larger firm essentially looking to cash in on the back of their innovation.

However, despite the initial optimism felt by Gateley, Peter Noyce of Menzies LLP remained coy when commenting on the situation, rating the chances of a 'stampede' being caused by other firms following suit in the near future unlikely.