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Birnberg Peirce:  

We're passionate about supporting all kinds of businesses - and First Call is one of our biggest and longest standing clients. Here's how we've been helping them for over a decade.


A little bit about Birnberg Peirce

It’s quite rare to find a person or an organisation that arguably deserves to be the subject of a Hollywood movie, but we think that the law firm Birnberg Peirce probably qualifies.

When we were first introduced to the practice, it was, to all intents and purposes, a highly regarded but otherwise unremarkable firm of solicitors, one of the scores of London law companies employing an estimated 44,000 lawyers in Greater London.

As it turned out, we couldn’t have been more wrong.

As we got to know our new client and its people, we began to discover that far from being the relatively anonymous entity its unassuming location implied, Birnberg Peirce had an intriguing back-story – one rooted in cases concerning civil and gay rights, police harassment, nuclear disarmament and South African apartheid, among many others.

What we now know as Birnberg Peirce began life in 1962 when Benedict (Ben) Birnberg, a Cambridge law graduate, forwent a life of salaried employment and opened up his own practice – B. M. Birnberg & Co – in what he described as ‘very cramped’ offices in Southwark.

As the practice grew, Birnberg became a mentor to many of the young lawyers he took into practice with him. Among those who began their journey into law with him was Gareth Peirce, a human rights activist whose name, as partner, eventually joined Birnberg’s over the door and gave the firm the title it boasts today.

Birnberg’s time as the founder and managing partner of the firm that bore his name is bookended by two notable cases.

The first saw him represent Frank Crichlow, a civil rights activist whose restaurant – The Mangrove, in Notting Hill – was the nerve centre for the inception and ongoing organisation of the Notting Hill Carnival and, in an 18-month period between January 1969 and July 1970, became the target of 12 raids by the Metropolitan Police.

In August that year a march organised in protest at the continued harassment of The Mangrove and Crichlow ended in violence and the arrests of nine protesters, including Crichlow himself, who became known as the Mangrove Nine.

Ben Birnberg led a team of lawyers who represented them in their celebrated trial in 1971, demolishing the evidence, achieving acquittals for all of them and, in the process, highlighting systemic racism within the Met.

Bentley had been sentenced to death, aged 19, on the basis of how the subsequent trial interpreted his ambiguous instruction to his accomplice Chris Craig to ‘Let him have it, Chris!’ when another police officer ordered the gun to be given up.

Birnberg and the legal team representing the family demonstrated two key facts that overturned the conviction.

The first was that the judge in the original case had not made it clear to the jury that the prosecution was required to prove Bentley knew Craig was armed when they embarked on the burglary.

The second was that a so-called confession given to police at the time and presented by the prosecution at the 1951 trial as a ‘verbatim record of dictated monologue’ had in fact been heavily edited by police.

Where we stepped in 

Birnberg needed our service to provide a very succinct list of demands -

They wanted us to:

Get rid of long, inflexible terms

Prevent high call costs

Avoid long waiting times with the network

Give a much more personalised service than the network


The YCG solution

We offer flexible, 30 day terms meaning that there is no commitment to a standard long-term 12 or 24 month agreement. Users can be added and taken away no matter how long they have existed without the fear of a large lump sum to end the contract.

We have some of the most competitive pricing on the market with a flat cost structure to help limit spend. In addition, our fantastic billing system means there’s no hidden extras and you can have total control and visibility of your usage.

We might be biased, but we have an amazing customer service department and if you don’t believe us – let our NPS of 58 speak for itself. We aim to pick up calls after 3 rings because your needs are our priority, and you will deal with the same people year on year who understand your account down to the last detail.

What came next?

Today firm’s stated aim is to ‘enable those who seek our assistance and in particular those who are most disadvantaged within society to access ways of enforcing their rights and to effectively defend them if charged with criminal offences’.

In 2022, the practice will celebrate its 50th anniversary and it remains as committed to the protection of civil rights and liberties today as it was when Ben Birnberg opened his door for business in Southwark half a century ago.

It achieves its aims by sharing knowledge and experience within the firm to ensure every case has the benefit of the widest possible expertise of relevance – and where possible, most of its casework is funded by legal aid – meaning the experience and skills of this heavyweight practice are always available to those who need it most.

And us? Well, all we do is supply the 60 mobile phones they need to ensure their work happens as smoothly as possible.

We’ve been doing that for the last dozen years or so, so we think we probably do that pretty well, and we’re certainly very pleased to have the opportunity to be involved with an organisation that does so much to support those who face discrimination, persecution and exploitation.


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