Interesting US/UK Legal Business Comparison

What comes of reading your emails over the holiday! The ABA compares approaches on both sides of the Atlantic to legal business reform, and highlights two US players (Legalzoom and Jacoby & Meyers) planning to hit the UK. Is the ABS ahead of the game, and will the USA follow?

Link here.


Challinors and PI Developments

News that Challinors’ PI caseload has been sold to SGI Law of Liverpool. So the people do not go with it, which I deal with elsewhere.

From the same Gazette report, news that Fentons is being taken over by Slater & Gordon (more detail here).

Apart from the further consolidation of the legal profession generally (and PI in particular) it illustrates that floating on the stock exchange may give advantages in terms of raising capital.

Tesco Law: How it Works

I admit that this is the Co-op not Tesco, but it illustrates how our brave new legal world will work, as I have predicted.

I picked up a brochure for Co-operative employee benefits this morning. They are very keen on childcare vouchers, although their bike scheme appears to have disappeared. Nestled among the sheets advertising broadband and energy deals was one for Co-operative Legal Services. This covers will writing and probate/estate administration.

All of the brochure is aimed at employers, not employees, and covers ways of providing employee benefits. So the legal services are presented in that light, not least the discounted fees.

The result? The Co-op get the employer to make the introduction to the client, and to push the product (and wills are generally a good idea). Even if the employee has made a will, they may be interested in other services, where the discount will not be available.

And we wonder how the Co-op will keep 3,000 additional staff busy.

Growth of Fixed Fees

There was an interesting report this week that Riverview Chambers are offering fixed fees in divorce cases for high net worth individuals.

What is particularly unusual is that this is at the top end of the market. Fixed fees would normally be more common lower down, where value for money and the need for certainty might be more important.

Riverview Law also offer fixed fees in divorce.

So the strategy of some chambers and firms of moving up market for higher fees may be under threat.

Gazette report here, Riverview Chambers here and Riverview Law’s divorce page is here.

ABS: Russell Jones & Walker

The SRA has announced that Russell Jones & Walker have been authorised as an ABS organisation. You may recall that they were taken over earlier this year (pending this step) by Australian firm Slater & Gordon. They themselves were pioneers by being the first law firm in the world to float on a stock exchange.

So RJW manage to be the first foreign owned ABS and the first floated ABS in the one day.

While this has been on the stocks for some time, and is therefore not a surprise, it shows that any assumption that ABS just means “Tesco” is wrong. The implications are much wider, as indeed is illustrated by the NewLaw and other authorisation.

Gazette report here, The Lawyer here.

ABS: Cardiff Law Firm Authorised

News that PI firm NewLaw of Cardiff and Glasgow has been granted an ABS licence by the SRA. It is the first legal disciplinary practice so authorised.

Apart from not being Tesco, what is interesting is that the firm was formed in 2004 with this pretty well in mind. This gives them an advantage of not having to change from a traditional partnership approach, and the attitude “we have always done it this way”. And with 250 staff (57 solicitors) across 2 offices, they are already doing quite well.

What joint ventures do they have up their sleeves? We will have to wait to find out.

The Lawyer report here.