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Law firms are investing in innovation through venture capital services
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Law firms are investing in innovation through venture capital services

JUNE 21, 2019, 6:30 AM CDT


Ari Kaplan.

Ari Kaplan spoke with Alex Nwaka, a principal with Touchdown Ventures, which provides venture capital services on behalf of leading corporations.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at Touchdown Ventures.

Alex Nwaka: I started my career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and UBS in New York City covering the energy industry, went to Columbia Business School and then spent some time at Virgin Management, Richard Branson’s family office, performing a combination of venture capital, private equity and corporate development work. After Virgin, I worked as a private equity consultant at Estee Lauder Cos. on their new business development team, helping to reorganize their M&A strategy. I joined Touchdown four and a half years ago as the first full-time hire. In the last year and a half to two years, I have focused on enterprise software and the future of professional services. Legal tech is among the categories on which I spend my time.

Ari Kaplan: How does the company’s model of providing venture capital as a service work?

Alex Nwaka: We believe in strong collaboration with our corporate partners, where each party brings a valuable perspective. Touchdown brings the venture capital expertise, which includes sourcing, diligence, deal execution, deal management, including board representation and commercial relationships, through an exit. We also handle some of the reporting and monitoring of the portfolio as well. Our corporate partners bring deep industry expertise from their vertical or the category in which they operate. Together, we make a complete team combining the VC and operating knowledge.

Ari Kaplan: What are the advantages?

Alex Nwaka: We collectively can bring significant strategic value to our portfolio companies either as customers, channel partners or as a general sounding board for go-to-market strategy and even product development in the broadest sense. We are more than just a check to the founders and entrepreneurs that we invest in. We really try to bring strategic value.

Ari Kaplan: What types of organizations are investing in legal tech?

Alex Nwaka: We are finding most often that law firms are one of the key constituencies investing in legal tech. Corporate legal departments and GCs within Fortune 500 corporations are also investing in legal tech. And, to a much lesser extent, institutional venture funds are playing around in the ecosystem as well.
innovation  firms  clementi 
july 2019 by JordanFurlong
Exclusive: Unregulated virtual firm granted SRA waiver - Legal Futures
One of AGL’s selling points to lawyers is that it says they keep a greater share of the fees they generate – up to 90% – than any of the equivalent firms, of which there is a growing number, such as listed law firm Keystone Law, gunnercooke and Carbon Law Partners.

At the moment, solicitors working for unregulated businesses have to call themselves non-practising, but the AGL waiver means that any solicitor working at the firm can operate under their title without having to seek an individual waiver.

Founder Lindsay Healy is a former Norton Rose solicitor and latterly a general counsel at technology company Xchanging.

He set up AGL last year to offer a wide range of commercial law services. It started with him and two clients and now has 15 lawyers and 80 clients.

Mr Healy outlined major ambitions for the firm, which he said would have 19 lawyers by the end of June and could reach 75-100 by the end of the year.

Every lawyer at AGL can work flexibly and everyone – including Mr Healy – is paid in the same way and receives an equal share in the profits. “Nobody takes profit from anyone else’s work,” he said.

Lawyers retain an initial 85% of what they bill; the remaining 15% goes towards AGL’s overheads, but whatever is left after that is distributed back to the lawyers as profit – in proportion to the hours they have billed – less 5% donated to charity, which is currently Great Ormond Street Hospital.
clementi  newlaw 
july 2019 by JordanFurlong
Mayson spells out hard choices in reforming legal regulation - Legal Futures
He restated his belief that professional titles were a “limiting factor in the development of regulation” and said that it “might be sensible” to move away from them, to a future where all ‘lawyers’ were regulated by activity.

However, he said that how far it might be possible to shift away from titles remained an “open question”.

The academic – who is undertaking the review with the support of University College London – said one of the problems with activity-based regulation was how to define the activities and he referred to Scotland’s independent review of legal services regulation, which found that this could actually increase the number of regulators.

“You could end up with more regulators than we have now, each regulating a different activity. It’s still a complex mosaic whichever way you cut the cake.”

The Law Society strongly defended title-based regulation in its response to the Mayson review in March this year and called for the public to be better educated about professional titles.

Professor Mayson said he agreed with the conclusions of the Competition and Market Authority’s study of the legal services market in describing the current framework as unsustainable and saying the justification for some reserved activities was stronger than for others.
regulation  clementi 
june 2019 by JordanFurlong
Plexus chief: PE investment is "entirely different" this time - Legal Futures
The recent cash injection into Plexus Law is “an entirely different deal in entirely different circumstances” from its failed first foray into private equity backing, its chief executive has told Legal Futures.

Fiona Scott also said Plexus aimed to be the leading national defendant law firm, filling a “huge gap” in the market left by many of the big insurance law firms focusing on their international practices.

Earlier this month, Plexus announced a £15m investment from Origin Equity. Back in 2012, the Parabis Group – of which Plexus was part – was the first law firm to be bought by a private equity business, Duke Street.

But the group was broken up in a pre-pack sale in November 2015, with Plexus returning to the ownership of its founders.
april 2019 by JordanFurlong
Co-op sees legal services turnover and profit soar - Legal Futures
The Co-operative – now the largest provider of probate services in the UK – recorded a 37% rise in turnover from legal services in 2018, and a 53% jump in profit.

The legal services business – which is part of the Co-op’s life planning division – saw its income reach £34.9m in 2018, up from £25.5m the previous year, with profit increasing from £1.5m to £2.3m.

The results reflect the acquisition a year ago of Simplify Probate, then the UK’s second largest probate provider, whose 170 staff took the total staff number at CLS to just over 600.

Like-for-like revenue taking out the acquisition of Simplify was up 12% last year.

The Co-op’s annual results said Simplify Probate has been “successfully” integrated: “Our clients are already benefiting from faster distribution of estate proceeds. In 2019 we’ll continue to offer probate services as part of our funeral support to families.”
wills  clementi  competition 
april 2019 by JordanFurlong
Why law firms can’t compete | Canadian Lawyer Mag
While fixing law firm capital structures is entirely within a firm’s control, extending ownership to non-legal talent is not. The list of potential key players is long: business and HR executives, technology professionals, project managers, accountants, business process specialists, design-thinkers and administrative professionals, to name a few. Our competitors are winning the battle for this talent because they can attract, retain and align key talent (irrespective of specialty or background) around a common goal through ownership in the enterprise. Unfortunately, law firms do not currently have this option. Even if we can set aside our egos and admit that non-lawyers play a meaningful role in firm success, we are prevented by regulation from opening our capital structures to attract and retain this talent. Without this important tool, we are giving our competition a head-start in the race towards improved access to legal services and better client service — the foundations of our professional mandate.
clementi  governance 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
DWF unveils plan for blockbuster stock market listing - Legal Futures
The blockbuster listing – likely to value the firm at around £600m – would make at least 25% of the firm’s shares available to investors. Though no figures have been released yet, DWF is thought to be looking to raise £50-100m.

The selling partner shareholders would hold a majority of the shares after admission.

DWF has 27 offices in 14 jurisdictions and employs 3,100 people focusing on insurance, financial services and real estate. It has a connected services division made up of 12 businesses offering other services around the legal advice.

In a ‘potential intention to float’ notice published today, the firm said it saw “a large consolidation opportunity… in a highly fragmented global market for legal and connected services”.

It said the acquisition growth strategy would focus on international expansion and accelerated development of the connected services division.

On the latter, it said: “Acquisition priorities are to: (i) acquire new product, software and technology capabilities, (ii) improve the geographical coverage of existing service lines, (iii) gain additional complementary services and solutions for DWF’s practice areas and specialisms and (iv) build out DWF’s current consulting capabilities within the connected services market to take advantage of the sizeable market opportunity.”
clementi  innovation  newlaw 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Reed Smith Eyes US Merger and Plans ABS Conversion | The American Lawyer
Reed Smith is aiming to move its Europe and Middle East arm to an alternative business structure, or ABS, by early next year, as the Pittsburgh-based firm also considers a domestic merger to bolster its coverage in the United States.
The American Lawyer affiliate Legal Week revealed last year that the global firm was considering converting its Europe and Middle East arm to the ABS structure in order to “future-proof” its operations.

Europe and Middle East head Tamara Box has told Legal Week that the firm is “absolutely planning” to move to the structure with the goal of completing the process in the final quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2019.
“We want to use that structure as an agility tool to ensure we are nimble enough to service our clients in the future,” Box said. “We operate as a global profit pool, so we have had to manage regulatory issues within different jurisdictions to clearly preserve that.”

An ABS conversion allows law firms to bring nonlawyers into its equity and share profits, and Reed Smith, which ranks 25th in the Am Law 100 and 32nd in the Global 100 with $1.1 billion in revenue, is attracted by the potential of closer integration with teams or businesses run by nonlawyers who could offer something different to its clients. The ability to share profits would help Reed Smith attract and retain senior staff on the consulting side.

Meanwhile, the firm—which lost a large group of lawyers from its Philadelphia office earlier this year—is also considering where it wants to bolster its U.S. operations and how best to do so.

One London Reed Smith partner said they felt the firm was “trying to gear us up for a possible merger” at the firm’s partner conference held in Orlando earlier this year. The partner said that while nothing specific was discussed, partners were given “soft messaging” about opportunities.
clementi  merger 
october 2018 by JordanFurlong
Tensions in Legal Services Act coming to fore, says review - Legal Futures
“The world that existed in 2004 simply does not exist in the same way now, and the inherent tensions in the 2007 Act are becoming increasingly apparent.”

The paper went through these in detail, from the “inflexibility” of the Act – concerns over the move away from self-regulation that it entailed meant “much prescriptive and protected detail was ‘hard-wired’” into it – to the “competing and possibly inappropriate regulatory objectives” that are at the Act’s core.

“For example, the objective to protect and promote the public interest does not always sit easily with another to protect and promote the interests of consumers, or with yet another to promote competition in the provision of legal services.”

Reflecting work Professor Mayson carried out in 2010, he said the “pivotal” and limited set of reserved activities were “anachronistic and do not necessarily include all activities that ought to be regulated”.

Further, title-based authorisation of lawyers resulted in additional burden and cost in relation to some activities being regulated that do not need to be – even though Parliament has decided that only the reserved activities have to be regulated, as soon as someone is authorised as a solicitor or barrister, “their regulator will then assume jurisdiction over all of the activities carried out by that person, both reserved and non-reserved”.

It has also led to multiple regulators overseeing the same activity in different ways, as well as a regulatory gap that exposes consumers to potential harm from unregulated providers “and puts qualified practitioners at a competitive disadvantage”.

Other problems were “an incomplete separation of regulation and representation” at the Law Society, Bar Council and others, and “the potentially misconceived ‘mission’ basis of regulation and regulators”.
regulation  governance  clementi 
october 2018 by JordanFurlong
LawNext Episode 9: Bill Henderson on Changing the Non-Lawyer Ownership Rules | LawSites
Should legal ethics rules be changed to allow non-lawyer ownership of legal services providers? So controversial is the question that it was major news in July when the State Bar of California voted to appoint a task force to study and make recommendations on the issue. What spurred the bar to take this action was the Legal Market Landscape Report it commissioned from William D. Henderson, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Henderson is my guest on today’s episode to discuss his findings and recommendations.
regulation  governance  clementi  ethics 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Law Firm Disrupted: Outside Ownership of a Law Firm Alert! |
Silicon Valley startup Atrium Legal Technology Services Inc. receiving $65 million in funding from some big-name investors. Plink asked what I thought about Atrium, and I had to be honest: I’d been on vacation most of last week and since returning had been too tied up with other deadlines to look at the news.

So here is the news if you’ve not read about it already: Atrium, in the span of about a year, has provided flat-fee legal advice to 250 startups that collectively have raised more than $500 million. It has hired about 115 people. The company is half law firm, half software developer; the software developed being used by the law firm to automate simple tasks. Got it? O.K.

The $65 million investment is exciting. For a number of reasons. For one, it’s about $30 million shy of the annual gross revenue of the No. 200 firm on The American Lawyer’s annual Second Hundred list.

But most germane to Big Law, in my mind, is that it’s another way to get outside money into a law firm, which I’ve been writing about a lot lately. I continue to believe outside investors are one of the most effective ways to overcome barriers to innovation inherent in the partnership model. Mostly because they allow law firms to think long term.

After reading about Atrium, I find myself asking: Why can’t other law firms do this?
clementi  innovation  startup 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Simpson Millar unveils £50m plan to become leading consumer legal brand - Legal Futures
Cox: Firms need scale

Simpson Millar has unveiled a five-year £50m growth strategy to become one of a handful of consumer legal brands, starting with the acquisition of Liverpool practice EAD Solicitors.

The announcements are a major statement of intent by the firm, after it suffered under the ownership of Fairpoint Group PLC, which delisted and collapsed in August 2017, and had to cut 20% of staff last year as a result.

Simpson Millar has bought EAD through an administrator, but chief executive Greg Cox told Legal Futures that “the core EAD is actually very sound” – work such as personal injury (PI), clinical negligence, trade union and employment.
clementi  access  innovation 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Co-op: We're now the UK's largest probate provider - Legal Futures
CLS: Sales are continuing to increase

The Co-op has declared itself the largest provider of probate services in the UK as its financials continue to improve.

The group’s interim results today show that revenues at Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) in the first half of 2018 jumped 31% to £16.1m, compared to £12.3m in the same period last year – which was itself a significant improvement on the year before.

Profit for the six months quadrupled to £800,000 when compared with 2017.

Earlier this year, the Co-op acquired Simplify Probate, the UK’s second largest provider of probate, whose 170 staff took the total staff number at CLS to just over 600.

Simplify Probate was part of the Simplify Group, which also includes QualitySolicitors and residential property services company Move With Us.
clementi  wills  access 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Comment: Law firm IPOs still don’t make much sense (but soon could)
‘Who would possibly invest in a law firm?’ asks one leader this month, reflecting a common view. Yet the current vogue for floating law firms suggests momentum is indeed building, more than a decade after the introduction of the Legal Services Act.

In recent weeks, DWF has turned heads with talk of a £1bn float this year. While the price – not officially attributed to the firm – looks fanciful, even a standard £400m-£600m valuation would be by some way the largest legal float yet seen. The last 12 months have seen a series of offerings, with Knights in June raising £50m and others recently braving the market, including Rosenblatt, Gordon Dadds and Keystone Law. And while larger commercial law firms publicly play down the prospects of raising outside capital, there is no doubt it is now getting more active consideration.
Yet for institutional lawyers, the basic tension in attracting outside shareholders remains. Large law firms generate plenty of capital and have the advantage of an owner/manager structure that closely aligns to the business’ needs and interests. It has never been that clear how the very different incentives of outside investors can be aligned with partners, beyond giving a payout to older partners, a poor outcome for the business as a going concern. Law firms are built on ‘elevator assets’, partners bred to expect huge autonomy make a lousy bet for outside shareholders.
clementi  newlaw 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
DWF weighing up £600m listing on stock exchange - Legal Futures
Stock exchange: DWF would be sixth firm to list

Top-25 practice DWF is considering whether to become by far the largest law firm to list on the London Stock Exchange, it emerged today.

The move would galvanise interest in law firms going public, and based on valuations of those that have made the move to date, the firm would be valued at about £600m, although some reports have put it at £1bn.

There are currently four law firms on the market – Gateley, Gordon Dadds, Keystone Law and Rosenblatt – with Knights set to become the fifth.

The Lawyer lists DWF as the 23rd biggest law firm in the country, with revenues in 2017 of £201m. Profits in its last couple of financial years have been around the £45m mark.

In a statement released today, DWF said: “To enable us to deliver on our strategy and for us to better serve our clients through an increasingly international and differentiated offering, we have plans to increase our investment in information technology and Connected Services.”

Connected Services is a standalone company that the firm has described as forming “an umbrella over a range of complementary specialist business solutions, as well as consultative services and products, that sit alongside DWF’s core legal offering”.
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Turnover up at Co-op Legal as it unveils Simplify Probate acquisition - Legal Futures
The Co-op has acquired Simplify Probate, the UK’s second largest provider of probate, as it bids to become the dominant player in the market.

It has also unveiled a 13.6% increase in legal services turnover for 2017.

Simplify Probate was part of the Simplify Group, which also includes QualitySolicitors and residential property services company Move With Us.

Simplify Probate has 170 staff, taking the total staff number at Co-op Legal Services to just over 600. The price is undisclosed, even though it is likely to appear in the Co-op’s accounts next year.

As part of the deal, Co-op Legal will work in a strategic partnership with Move With Us, and its sister businesses DC Law and JS Law, to handle the property and conveyancing requirements arising from estate administration work.

It will replace the three firms on Co-op Legal’s conveyancing panel.

Last year, the Co-op brought its legal services operation together with its much larger funerals business to create a Life Planning division. It handled 16,342 legal matters last year, up 321 on 2016.
access  clementi  wills 
april 2018 by JordanFurlong
What can we learn from the English ABS experience after five years? – Slaw
What appears to be clear is that not much has happened in England as a result of ABS liberalization. The conclusion of the 2017 LSB Report is essentially that existing practices have not had to innovate because they have not faced strong competition particularly from new entrants. But the report does not address why relatively easy entry into the legal services market and the fact of unreserved areas of practice have not led to increased competition.

It may be that the emergence of new entrants simply takes time. It may also be that existing legal practices are reasonably well suited to the work that they do and that there isn’t substantial profit to be made serving existing reserved legal markets though new forms of practice.

So the implication of the first five years of ABS liberalization in England is that it has not led to much accessing of external capital nor to much innovation. At the same time, it does not appear that ABS liberalization has led to significant problems either. That said, spending substantial regulatory time and effort to enable a significant regulatory change of rather limited impact does not seem like a great use of resources.

Of course, things don’t necessarily stay the same. It is clear that technology continues to advance significantly. There is ample evidence that unlicensed direct-to-consumer legal services are being provided in Canada and that the volumes are likely to increase especially as technology evolves. It seems logically to follow that this will lead to competitive pressure on existing legal practitioners who will require access to external capital to respond effectively. There is a credible argument that limiting access to external capital will handicap existing practices against new entrants.

But it must be admitted that these credible arguments are not yet supported by market evidence in the very significant and competitive English market. The dilemma is that there isn’t cogent current evidence for regulatory reform while our ability to respond nimbly if and when required is doubtful. In resolving this dilemma, my inclination is to watch and wait given the advantage of having the English “experiment” to guide our thinking.
march 2018 by JordanFurlong
ABSs top the 1,000 mark as research highlights changing face of legal market - Legal Futures
he wake of ABSs have proven to be unfounded.

“However, looking beyond these overall numbers, there has been some downsizing in many firms and the dropping of under-performing practice areas.”

The report said the “flip side” of larger law firm closures was the emergence of new boutique and virtual firms, with the result that the total number of law firms had stabilised at 10,408 – an increase of 0.5% on the previous year.

The report found that the proportion of law firms made up of incorporated companies rose from 37% to 44% since January 2016, increasing from 3,859 to 4,580.

This figure excludes LLPs, which made up another 15% of the total, leaving traditional partnerships, “for a long time the dominant model in the legal sector”, with a share of only 17%.

Growth in the legal services sector as a whole bounced back in 2017, after a 2.2% dip the previous year, with a 3.8% increase in total revenue, taking it to £32.7bn.

With the exception of 2016, the report outlined a pattern of strong growth for legal services since 2010, with increases in turnover ranging from 1.6% (2012) to 10.6% (2013).

The report forecast growth of 4.2% for this year, rising to 5% in 2019 and 5.8% by 2020.

“By 2021, the turnover of legal services companies is expected to reach over £40bn, representing growth of 22.7% from 2017 to 2021.”
february 2018 by JordanFurlong
ABS update: Gordon Dadds acquires first law firm post-float, Co-op launches divorce platform, will writers go under - Legal Futures
Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has launched an online platform for uncontested divorces with solicitor support, saying that often clients “don’t see the need for face-to-face interviews, and they’re looking for speed”.

Instead of sending an email to CLS, and being called back at any point during the working day, those using the new system will be able to book a particular time slot with a solicitor.

They have first to complete various questions online designed to ensure that they actually want a divorce, and also gather personal details needed to populate the divorce petition.

It costs from £600 plus court fees.
clementi  family  access 
january 2018 by JordanFurlong
Nova Scotia’s Stealth Revolution - Not Just For Lawyers
With these decisions, Nova Scotia has gone beyond the theory of its Policy Framework in order to implement both entity regulation and compliance-based regulation in a concrete manner. While Nova Scotia’s regulations in this regard will continue to evolve, and in all likelihood evolve considerably, that does not detract from the significance of these initial, ground breaking decisions. Admittedly, from the perspective of England & Wales and Australia, there is nothing ground breaking about them, given that those countries adopted entity regulation as well as “outcomes focused regulation” (England & Wales) and “proactive, management based regulation” (or “PMBR,” a term Ted Schneyer coined for Australia) quite some time ago. However, from the perspective of Canada and the United States, the NSBS decisions are ground breaking indeed. No other Canadian province or US state has even come close to adopting entity regulation or compliance-based regulation to this extent. Not yet, anyway. (Illinois and Colorado have taken tentative first steps).
regulation  governance  ethics  clementi 
january 2018 by JordanFurlong
Deloitte makes long-awaited assault on legal market | News | Law Society Gazette
Deloitte will also extend its existing legal services in employment law, tax litigation and immigration.

Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax and legal at Deloitte, said the aim is not to replicate a traditional legal practice but instead to initiate a different approach.

‘We’re planning to use our technology and advisory skills to transform legal services and help address many of the challenges lawyers, whether in practice or in-house, are facing in today’s increasingly complex legal environment,’ said Ellis. ‘By automating repetitive processes and completing routine tasks in a fraction of the time, lawyers will be able to spend more time on specialist areas.’

New services will be on offer early this year and Deloitte will apply for an alternative business structure licence. The company says it is ‘investing in new staff’ but has not given a figure for how many lawyers will be recruited.
accountants  clementi  competition  innovation 
january 2018 by JordanFurlong
"We don’t want to replicate a traditional law firm" - Deloitte announces ABS move - Legal Futures
Deloitte is to become the final member of the Big Four accountancy firms to set up an alternative business structure (ABS), it announced today.
accountants  clementi  competition  innovation 
january 2018 by JordanFurlong
Reed Smith Mulls Structural Changes to London Office | The American Lawyer
Reed Smith is considering converting its London office to an alternative business structure (ABS) as the global legal giant examines the possibility of joint ventures and profit-sharing arrangements with non-lawyer businesses.

The Am Law 100 firm, which would be one of the largest U.S. firms to date to make use of an ABS structure, is considering the switch to enable it to work more closely with third-party nonlegal outfits, particularly in the consulting and technology spheres.

An ABS conversion allows law firms to bring nonlawyers into the equity and share profits, and Reed Smith is attracted by the potential of closer integration with teams or businesses run by nonlawyers that could offer something different to the firm’s clients. The ability to share profits would help Reed Smith attract and retain senior staff on the consulting side.

“We’ve been taking a very careful look at what the firm of the future looks like, and we are willing to be different in how we approach clients and what we can offer them,” said the firm’s Europe and Middle East managing partner M. Tamara Box. “We have to figure out what clients want, and that takes more than just lawyers these days.”

While no decisions have yet been taken, Reed Smith is keen to “future-proof” itself so that the firm is ready to take advantage of opportunities as and when they arise. The firm is working with a number of external advisers, including global accounting giant Deloitte, on the plans. All of the firm’s partners around the world are also being consulted, with London partners first learning of the potential move around two months ago.

“All of the London partners have been raising a lot of questions,“ said one partner who requested anonymity when discussing internal affairs. “We want to make sure any reputational issues are addressed.”
clementi  innovation 
december 2017 by JordanFurlong
The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang
There clearly was an impact of sorts, supporting an environment where new business models and fresh thinking were encouraged. That renewed the legal ambitions of the accountants, encouraged the pioneering UK launch of Slater and Gordon, and made Co-op as close as we have got to Tesco law. After a slow initial start there are now over 700 licensed ABSs in England and Wales, representing a significant chunk of the market. Also significant is the messy regulatory fallout and ongoing turf war that it triggered, which has continued with varying degrees of intensity ever since.

And yet it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the 2007 act has so far had surprisingly limited impact on the dynamics of the industry. Many of the current experiments seen in the profession are variations on themes evident in the 1990s and early 2000s. Tech-driven volume arms, automation and locum lawyering had been achieved without statute.

As yet we have only two UK law firms with a domestic stock market listing – Gateley and Gordon Dadds in 2015 and 2017 respectively – while several of New Law’s most touted pioneers, among them Slater and Gordon, Co-op and Parabis, suffered high-profile reversals. Even the much-touted accountants have yet to get anywhere near justifying the claims made for them. Irwin Mitchell is yet to float or tap private equity and Gateley, ranking 48th in the Legal Business 100, is still the largest UK practice to seek outside capital.

Related  SDT clears Leigh Day and three of its lawyers in high-profile Iraqi claims misconduct prosecution
These days it is mandatory for law firms to market relentlessly on innovation, even as such material is stretched ever more thinly. New Law providers have had less impact than expected because they have been better at delivering new models than cutting the price of services.

But the biggest criticism of the Legal Services Act saga is that it has done adjacent to nothing for the ill-served retail consumers whom it was supposed to aid. As the Competition and Markets Authority concluded last December after a year-long review, occasional users of legal services struggle to find a decent product at a reasonable price.

The irresistible pressure for change in the legal industry forever strikes the immovable object of professional conservatism and market realities of non-discretionary, distressed purchasing, which is what law is.
clementi  innovation 
november 2017 by JordanFurlong
An Introduction
The question remains has the LSA delivered on its promise of radical change.  Below is a timeline of events over the last 10 years.  Many of these are momentous but we have not yet seen an Uber or Dyson moment when a new type of legal provider disrupts the market.   However, this may be the calm before the storm.  The rise of legal tech, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, suggests that the moment of true disruption is coming.  When it happens, the England and Wales regulatory model fashioned by the LSA is better placed to welcome these new providers within the regulatory tent.  In other markets this disruption may well put the regulatory framework under strain. 
october 2017 by JordanFurlong
'Social enterprise' ABS set to merge with London councils' joint legal team - Legal Futures
“The ABS vehicle established by LGSS Law over the past two years will provide a modern business-like platform from which the combined teams will grow their business through in-sourcing work currently outsourced and attracting new external clients by trading surplus capacity released by productivity improvements. If necessary, capacity will be increased to grow the business and expertise.”
october 2017 by JordanFurlong
LegalZoom ABS set to turn £2m loss into profit after major investment - Legal Futures
This was due to a significant and planned-for investment after it bought Wakefield law firm Beaumont Legal in early 2016 for £6.4m, according to the accounts for the extended period of 10 September 2015 to 31 December 2016.

It has also emerged that LegalZoom has bought an online company formations business.

Beaumont Legal is best known for volume conveyancing, but also handles wills and probate, commercial and dispute resolution work.

The ABS made a gross profit of just under £2m on a turnover of £6.6m, but ‘administrative expenses’ of £3.4m and amortisation of goodwill and intangibles of £811,000 sent it into the red.

A review of the business by UK managing director Piers Chead explained that the ABS has “invested heavily during the period, supported by its ultimate parent company, in both staff and technology as it explored new innovative ways of working and an intention to provide new ways of supplying legal services to satisfy the industry’s changing needs”.

He said the changes included a new conveyancing portal, a “market-leading real-time communications platform between customer and the company”, and preparations for a “paperlite” office environment.
clementi  legalzoom  competition 
october 2017 by JordanFurlong
PwC to open US law firm, a sign of increasing focus on legal operations by Big 4 accounting firms
In the United States, almost every jurisdiction has ethics rules that bar nonlawyer ownership of law firms, nonlawyer management of law firms, and sharing fees with nonlawyers, according to an issues paper released by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services last year.

But PwC’s U.S. law firm, called ILC Legal, will operate separately from the accounting firm, according to Richard Edmundson, who heads PwC’s international business reorganizations practice. It will help U.S. clients on international issues and won’t offer U.S. law advice.

Washington, D.C., does not ban multidisciplinary practices owned by nonlawyers, but that isn’t the reason Edmundson cites for the chosen location. Bar rules there allow lawyers to register as foreign legal consultants and practice U.K. law, he told the Am Law Daily. Edmundson said ILC Law has no plans at this time to open more U.S. offices, but it could happen in the future.

“We will see how the market reacts,” he told the Am Law Daily.

Law firm leaders are waking up to the Big Four threat, the ALM report says. Sixty-six percent of partners surveyed said they were concerned about alternative legal service providers and accounting firms, and 64 percent said accounting firms moving into the legal industry was a bigger threat than the expansion of in-house legal departments, e-discovery vendors and legal process outsourcing companies. ALM Intelligence did not provide information on how many partners were surveyed.
accountants  clementi  competition 
september 2017 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal Law Firm Ownership: An Evidence-Based Approach - Prism Legal
When it comes to who can own US law firms, we seem stuck in the pre-enlightenment age of speculation and dogma. Articles and commentary I read about law firm ownership presume much and present no evidence. This is perplexing for a profession that prides itself on analytic thinking and marshaling evidence.

Bar regulators must enter their own age of enlightenment. First, they must be honest about the goal: protect lawyers or clients (and perhaps acknowledge consumers and corporations need different rules). Then they must act on evidence.

With the goal clear, search for evidence that supports a plan to achieve the goal. And be willing to re-visit the plan over time as new evidence emerges.

On law firm ownership, I offer two observations. First, Australia and the United Kingdom allowed, more than five years ago, ownership by those not lawyers. Their skis have not fallen. I read many articles from both jurisdictions and none reports client harm.

And second, consider who really controls large US law firms. A September 1st American Lawyer article title asks “As Firms Centralize Management, Are Equity Partners Employees?” It suggests control by a small subset of partners on an executive committee. If true, how does control by a handful compare to the checks and balances of an outside Board of Directors and/or shareholders with a vote?

So my answer, not in the list of choices at Adam Smith, Esq. is “What are we trying to protect exactly and what evidence should guide our answer?”
clementi  ethics  governance 
september 2017 by JordanFurlong
PI boutiques battle non-lawyer ownership
ack in 2015, the regulator’s ABS working group stopped studying a proposal to allow non-lawyers to take majority stakes in law firms, shelving the idea after a storm of protest from within the profession.

However, the working group continued looking at other models of non-licensee ownership and, in June, returned with a motion to allow charities, non-profits and trade unions to offer legal services directly to their clients.

Despite the harmless-sounding nature of the groups involved, Brian Cameron, a partner with Oatley Vigmond Personal Injury Lawyers LLP in Barrie, Ont., remains highly skeptical of the motion, claiming its passage would be the first step on a slippery slope.  

“My personal view is that this is no more than the first step towards non-lawyer ownership. If it passes, I guarantee within two years we’ll be looking at non-lawyers with minority holdings,” he says.

“Nobody has a problem with the Red Cross having a law firm. My problem is with the unintended consequences of this and the erosion of the private bar, which are going to be disastrous.
“You get the sense they couldn’t do it all at once, so they are going incrementally,” Cameron adds.
august 2017 by JordanFurlong
Mishcon promotes two non-lawyers to senior equity partner |
Mishcon de Reya has promoted two non-lawyers to senior equity partner as part of its “10-year vision”.

The firm has made up business development director Elliot Moss and human resources director Vanessa Dewhurst (pictured) to its senior equity ranks.

The promotions come after long-serving COO Bambos Georgiou joined the partnership in 2015, when Mishcons converted to an alternative business structure.

In its annual promotion round earlier this year, the firm’s corporate, employment and real estate departments all saw one partner made up, including two female partners.

Managing partner Kevin Gold said: “In 2015, we decided to initiate a comprehensive process for developing a 10-year vision for the firm. We engaged people at all levels in an internal consultation, which started with a review of our core values.

“This announcement reflects a key element of our subsequent 10-year vision: reward everyone – lawyer or non-lawyer – who contributes to our success. Our people and our brand are at the heart of our business and Vanessa and Elliot have played a key role in Mishcon de Reya’s ongoing growth and development.”
clementi  partners  nonlawyer  innovation 
july 2017 by JordanFurlong
Exclusive: Online divorce business acquires family law firm - Legal Futures
Online Legal Services Ltd (OLS) – the company that runs the pioneering Divorce-Online website – has acquired south Wales family law firm Peter Thomas Law, Legal Futures can reveal.

It will enable Divorce-Online to capture the work arising from more complex divorces that is currently outsourced to other solicitors while it deals with uncontested splits.

OLS has worked with Peter Thomas Law for some time, with the lawyers handling a lot of consent order work. The firm became an alternative business structure (ABS) in October 2016 with OLS taking a minority stake, but it has now taken 100% ownership and its name will shortly change to OLS Solicitors.

The eponymous Peter Thomas will continue as head of legal practice and of finance and administration.

A new office will open in Swindon, where OLS is based, and recruitment has already begun. The two businesses combined have 22 staff.

The firm will operate on a fixed-fee menu where possible, offer an internet portal to allow clients track progress of their cases, and use apps, text messaging and other messaging platforms.
family  access  innovation  clementi 
june 2017 by JordanFurlong
News focus: Five years on, did ABS really change anything? | News | Law Society Gazette
Shirley Brookes, head of legal at PwC Legal, says her business feels much like any other law firm – albeit one with the backing of a giant. ‘We always think we have the best of both worlds, having started with the feeling and culture of a law firm while being part of a much bigger, wider business,’ she says.

PwC Legal aims to challenge firms of any size, but Brookes says it is technology (rather than structure) which will ultimately disrupt the sector.

Meanwhile, the appetite for innovation remains keen. There have been 33 new SRA-authorised ABSs this year, and in 2016 the regulator authorised 167 – the most since 2013. Business models are changing, multi-disciplinary practices are becoming more common and the idea of non-lawyers involved in law firms is becoming the new normal, rather than notable.

The future may well involve the SRA offering one single type of authorisation rather than forcing new entrants to choose. As Williams notes: ‘I would not be surprised if every existing law firm was offered the flexibility of ABSs at some point in the next five years. When that happens, we can finally drop the “alternative” from ABS.’
april 2017 by JordanFurlong
Five years on from its ABS licence, Co-operative Legal Services sees income and profits jump - Legal Futures
egal services revenues rose from £18m to £22m in 2016, “lifted mainly by more people coming to us for estate planning services, as well as our acquisition of Collective Legal Solutions (now known as Co-op Estate Planning)”, the group’s annual results announcement recorded. In 2012, it was £33m.

Operating profits went from £700,000 in 2015 to £2.2m last year, although the accounts have been restated to show zero profit to £1.5m to reflect that the £700,000, and the same amount this year, was put towards shared group membership services. In 2014, CLS recorded a loss of £5m. Profits in 2012 were minimal with the business investing for growth.

The announcement said: “We believe in providing legal services that are easy to access, giving fast and effective legal support at prices that are great value for money. In 2016, we invested in being able to take will, probate and conveyancing instructions online. Our members and clients gave us a vote of confidence and we’ll develop more new services in 2017…
clementi  wills  access  family  competition 
april 2017 by JordanFurlong
Litigation Funders Planning a New Role: Law Firm Ownership |
There is a segment of the lawsuit finance industry that believes taking ownership in law firms could put litigation funders at odds with the lawyers they seek to work with. Others argue that better-capitalized law firms may cannibalize the need for more traditional funding of individual or groups of lawsuits before the industry matures. And equity investments in law firms would require a change from the “underwriting” method litigation funders currently use to analyze the likely results of potential cases.

“I don’t think you’ll have nonlawyers just handing money to law firm management and saying, ‘We trust you,’ ” said a litigation funding executive who declined to be named.

The discussion comes on the heels of Burford’s announcement this month that it had formed its own law firm under the U.K.’s alternative business structures (ABS) law. The firm, Molot said, is limited to a lawyer who will track down funds from litigants who try to dodge judgments that Burford’s investments have helped to win. Burford hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld counsel Tom Evans for the role, which it says represents “in-sourcing” an aspect of legal work that neither Burford nor the firms it funds typically specialize in.

Burford does not plan to hire lawyers to conduct its own case work, Molot said. The funder is wary to be seen as competing for legal work that it currently pays large law firms to handle, for fear of upsetting its relationships with those firms. Litigation funders typically rely on law firms to find many of the cases they ultimately invest in.

“That would never be our plan,” Molot said of creating a full-fledged ABS law firm.
litigation  financing  clementi 
october 2016 by JordanFurlong
Co-op Legal Services recovery continues with growth in sales and profit - Legal Futures
“Simply put, we aim to deliver accessible, expert and trusted legal services with transparent pricing. At the end of last year we acquired Sheffield-based Collective Legal Solutions. The acquisition has helped us to build our support into communities throughout England and Wales with face-to-face advice on estate planning, wills, lasting powers of attorney (LPAs), trust and probate. The business brings to us more than 100 associates and support colleagues.”

On the back of this acquisition, estate planning sales (wills, trusts and LPAs) now form 18% of CLS’s business – up from 3% in the prior year.

“Our probate and estate administration business continues to grow and is up 6% on prior year despite a lower UK death rate than in the same period last year. The revenue growth is aligned with our plans and our profit is in line with expectations as we continue to invest in the business.”
clementi  access 
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
The "social enterprise" ABS that reduced clients' fee rates - Legal Futures
One of the first local authority alternative business structures (ABSs) is projected to increase its turnover 30% over the next year, and has already cut the fee rates for its shareholder clients by 20%, it revealed yesterday.

LGSS Law is now also providing legal advice and representation to more than 100 client organisations within the public and not-for-profit sectors, said Quentin Baker, its director of law, procurement and governance.

LGSS Law, which Mr Baker described as a “social enterprise law firm”, became an ABS in April 2015. It
clementi  process  access 
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
Exclusive: Kent Legal Services chief lays out blueprint for ABS - Legal Futures
Unlike some other local authorities which have bolted on an ABS to their in-house legal departments, all but five of KLS’s 125 lawyers and 35 support staff will move to the ABS in new offices in Maidstone.

The planned start-date is April 2017, allowing for the procurement and installation of a new IT system, with an ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) expected around November.

The council will be the sole shareholder and Mr Wild said there had been independence issues to discuss and clarify with the SRA.

Those who stay at the council will form a commissioning group – what Mr Wild described as an “intelligent client” – and also provide high-level governance advice to the council.

Indeed, Mr Wild’s job has now gone – he is chief executive (designate) of the ABS – while Ben Watts has been named interim general counsel of the council.

All other legal services will be handled by the ABS under a 10-year contract. Its working name is Invicta Law – adverts to recruit a financial director and head of business development have gone out under that brand – but Mr Wild said a new name and branding would be revealed in a few weeks’ time.
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
Publicly Traded British Law Firm Sees Gross Revenue Growth | The American Lawyer
Gateley, a British firm that last year raised $45 million in a landmark initial public offering, saw its gross revenue rise 11 percent in 2015-16, according to financial figures released by the firm.
september 2016 by JordanFurlong
CEO Quits Slater and Gordon Just as the World’s First Publicly Listed Law Firm Announces Massive Losses |
Where did it all go wrong for Slater and Gordon? The Australian personal injury and employment claims specialist established itself as a legal business pioneer in 2007 by becoming the world’s first publicly listed law firm—a move that would later see managing director Andrew Grech named by The American Lawyer as one of its top 50 legal industry innovators. Slater used the proceeds of its initial public offering to help it expand to the U.K. and finance a series of acquisitions, including a transformative 677 million-pound ($960 million) deal for the professional services division of insurance outsourcer Quindell Plc that established it as one of the largest insurance claims firms in Britain. The firm’s revenue soared and further success seemed inevitable.
august 2016 by JordanFurlong
The ‘Quiet Crisis’ In Legal And How to Fix It – Eddie Hartman’s Vision | Above the Law
at LegalZoom, we have a chief of technology, and when the chief of technology says ‘this is what we are going to do,’ then this is what we are going to do. At law firms the IT department frequently says, the lawyers should use this or that contract technology because it is faster and more accurate, but everyone ignores them. And that’s because the IT team at most law firms is powerless, they don’t have representation at the highest level. There is no one with voting equity who’s banging on the table saying, ‘no one is following my protocol, no one is opening the emails my team sends. And I’m furious.’ They just don’t have the power they would have if they had an actual equity stake.
clementi  access  innovation 
june 2016 by JordanFurlong
The Debate Over Non-Lawyer Firm Ownership Is Officially Closed, For Now | Big Law Business
The Commission’s decision to stand down isn’t surprising, given the largely negative feedback from lawyers to its April paper on ABS. At 16 pages, the paper noted ABS could increase access to justice by lowering the cost of legal services, but also create risks around lawyerly independence.
may 2016 by JordanFurlong
Slater & Gordon “failed in due diligence” over Quindell purchase - Legal Futures
Slater & Gordon failed to carry out good enough due diligence checks before buying Quindell’s professional services division this time last year, a partner at the UK’s first listed law firm has suggested.
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
World's First Publicly-Listed Law Firm to Restructure After Mammoth Loss | The American Lawyer
Last summer, it emerged that the firm was the subject of an accounting inquiry by Australian regulators, and eventually it admitted an accounting error that saw Slater & Gordon overstate U.K cashflows. While the probe was ongoing, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and Serious Fraud Office both announced investigations into the business and accounting practices at Quindell.
Then, in November, Slater & Gordon’s shares tanked following an unexpected announcement by the U.K. government that it planned to clamp down on personal injury claims—a core driver of the firm’s business. In a single day of frantic trading, the firm’s market value was slashed by half.
Worse was still to come. On Feb. 24, Slater & Gordon requested that its shares be suspended from trading as “certain material items” in the firm’s results for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2015, weren’t finalized and it wanted to avoid trading in its shares “on a basis that is not reasonably informed.”
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
The sorry tale of a fallen giant - Legal Futures
ut many of those commenting on yesterday’s news see it as further proof, were any needed since the collapse of Parabis, that the alternative business structure experiment is condemned to failure.

I still don’t see it that way. S&G was a successful firm that appears to have made a monumentally bad business decision. That has nothing to do with being an ABS, except that it was able to raise some of the cash for the deal from shareholders. Maybe this access to funding encouraged S&G to overreach itself.

But ABS is just a means to an end; it is no golden bullet for business success. As I said last August, what has happened doesn’t point to any inherent weakness in ABSs.
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
The ABA Facilitates the Modernization of Legal Service — Ralph Baxter
The American Bar Association(ABA) took profoundly important action last week at its ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego by adopting a conceptual framework for state regulation of legal service. The framework was expressed as a set of “Model Regulatory Objectives for the Provision of Legal Service,” denominated ABA Resolution 105.
regulation  clementi  competition 
march 2016 by JordanFurlong
Slater & Gordon suspends shares, while shareholder class actions gain momentum - Legal Futures
Slater & Gordon (S&G) was yesterday granted a voluntary suspension of its shares on the Australian Stock Exchange following a period when their value has been increasing modestly.
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
ICAEW: legal professional privilege creates “serious distortion” in market - Legal Futures
The presence of legal professional privilege (LPP) creates a “serious distortion to the competitive environment” of the legal services market, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has argued.

The ICAEW said the result was that clients may seek professional services from firms based on the availability of privilege, “rather than on the basis of a more cost-effective service”.

The institute, which called last week for tax accountants to be able to carry out all the reserved legal activities, including litigation and rights of audience, renewed its attack on LPP in a submission from its representative arm to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review of the legal services market.
accountants  competition  ethics  clementi 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Mishcon could make all its employees part-owners in John Lewis-style plans | Lawyer 2B
When Mishcon de Reya boss Kevin Gold told The Lawyer, “If the cleaner approached me with an idea on how to improve the firm, I’d listen,” the profession said his comments were “patronising.”

But now Gold is putting his money where his mouth is. Mishcon de Reya could move to a John Lewis-style ownership model that would see even the cleaning and reception staff own a stake in the business.

The firm is about to the reach the end of a year-long consultation to plan the next decade of Mishcon that could result in ground-breaking changes to the firm.

The results of the consultation will be presented by Gold and his executive team to the partnership in April when the firm will launch its first ‘10-year vision’.

Gold told The Lawyer all ideas were still “up in the air” but partners, fee-earners and employees had all been consulted on plans ranging from overhauling the ownership model to scrapping bonuses to launching offices overseas.
clementi  strategy  nonlawyer 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Let battle commence: accountants demand right to carry out all reserved legal activities - Legal Futures
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has outlined plans which would enable accountants to carry out all the reserved legal activities, including litigation and rights of audience.
accountants  clementi  competition  ethics 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
ABA policy-making body adopts principles to guide courts in regulatiing of legal service providers « ABA News Archives
he final vote on Resolution 105 was adopted through a voice vote after a rigorous debate of nearly two hours. While setting out broad principles, such as protection of the public, transparency of services and delivery of affordable and accessible legal services, the proposal was criticized for encouraging delivery of legal services by nonlawyers and companies not guided by principles of the legal profession.

The proposal was one of more than two dozen resolutions approved by the House of Delegates, which determines association-wide policy, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego. The resolution drew about 45 requests to speak on behalf of the resolution and another 35 against it although most waived the right to speak.

The resolution acknowledges the new developments in the legal marketplace and sets out 10 regulatory principles to guide each state’s highest court as it assesses existing regulatory frameworks and any other regulations related to non-traditional legal service providers.

“We must embrace change in terms of how it will help the public that we are sworn to serve,” said Judy Perry Martinez, who chairs the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. She added the resolution is “neutral” to the concepts of alternative business structures and fee splitting.

The proposal has drawn opposition from a range of state and other bar associations, as well as solo practitioners and small firms which see Internet legal alternatives as competition and services fall short of all ethical considerations. A proposal to reaffirm ABA policy against nonlawyer ownership of law firms was added to the initial proposal, and drew near unanimous support.

David P. Miranda, president of the New York State Bar Association, was the first to speak against the resolution, suggesting it opens “the door to tacit approval” of nonlawyer services. “Resolution 105 is a step backwards,” he said. “The guidelines fail to reaffirm the core principles of our profession.”

The issue pitted former ABA presidents against one another. William C. Hubbard, who established the futures commission during his presidency in 2014-15, spoke for it as did past ABA President Tommy Wells (2008-09). The motion of Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III (2011-12) to indefinitely table the resolution failed 191-276.

In closing for the proponents of the resolution, former ABA President Robert Grey (2004-05) said the resolution provides a “framework for us to offer guidance for the leadership, development and practice of law in this country for the foreseeable future.”
clementi  regulation  governance  competition  innovation 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Divided ABA Adopts Resolution on Nonlawyer Legal Services | The American Lawyer
After a weekend of vigorous and sometimes contentious debates over whether nonlawyers should be allowed to provide simple legal services, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates on Monday voted to adopt a resolution that gives states a framework to consider the regulation of "nontraditional legal service providers.”
clementi  competition  regulation  governance 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Legal Services Regulation: The Policy Framework | Nova Scotia Barristers' Society
4.      In order to ensure the public continues to benefit from an independent legal profession, together with the protection afforded by it (e.g. lawyer-client privilege, high ethical practice standards and security of trust funds and property), the Society’s regulation will, as a matter of principle and as confirmed by the regulatory objectives, enhance public protection. However it will also, by limiting its scope of regulation, enable the expanded delivery of legal services.

5.      The Society will seek amendments to the Legal Profession Act and will amend its regulations to state that its public interest role is to regulate the delivery of legal services in the province in accordance with the approved Regulatory Objectives.

6.      The Society will regulate the delivery of legal services by lawyers and will also regulate the delivery of legal services by legal entities, which include lawyers, law firms, law corporations, law departments and other similar entities. The type of legal services and clients of the legal entity will be the key determinants of the extent of risk there is to the public from such practices, and therefore the nature of the risk-focused regulation. Lawyers and legal entities will be entitled to practice law / deliver legal services, which may be defined as follows:

The delivery of legal services involves the provision of services in circumstances where the application of legal principles and judgment with regard to those circumstances or the objectives of a person requires the service provider to have the knowledge and skill of a person trained in the law.
regulation  governance  clementi  ethics 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Whither the Big 4?
Last year about 5—10% of US law school graduates went to work for an accounting firm;
PwC, EY, and KPMG have all secured ABS licenses in the UK; only Deloitte has, to date, demurred;
PwC has announced publicly its intent to grow its legal services revenue to $1-billion by 2019 (closer than you think), which would make it an AmLaw 20-size provider;
accountants  competition  firms  clementi 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Devon will writer to bring Canadian lawyer referral service to UK - Legal Futures
Trevor Worth, chief executive of Portcullis Legals, said the UK version of LawyerLocate would operate on “exactly the same model” as the Canadian – which became Google’s first Canadian legal industry partner last year.

LawyerLocate, which in Canada receives 3,000 unique visitors a day, advertises both online and offline, allowing users either to browse its directory or request that the company find a suitable lawyer.

“One of the benefits is that we will pre-screen clients and pass them to the appropriate law firm, which stops time-wasting,” Mr Worth said.

“The Canadian site has a 15-year history. They’ve been doing this for years and they know what they’re doing.”
competition  innovation  clementi  wills 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
Co-op puts focus on face-to-face legal advice with first acquisition
he deal gives CLS 75 ‘associates’ who provide face-to-face services to customers across the country, with a further 25 support staff at Collective’s Sheffield headquarters.

CLS currently has 23 probate consultants who work nationwide, but otherwise its services are provided by telephone and online. The acquisition takes CLS’s total staff numbers to 450.

Collective Legal Solutions, which began life in 2007, is opted-in to the Society of Will Writers’ regulatory regime, with professional indemnity insurance at the same £3m level demanded of solicitors. Staff also work to qualifications awarded by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

CLS managing director Matt Howells said that while the alternative business structure already had a strong share of probate work – and a “good position” in handling wills remotely – its research showed that when it came to wills, “customers really value the eye-to-eye model”, at least for initial instructions.

It fitted with the wider group’s strategy of “reorienting it back into communities”, he added. “Collective Legal Solutions gives us the ability to put on community-based events.”

The move also had the obvious benefit of building a will bank that would in turn grow the probate practice, he said.
wills  clementi  access  competition 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
Parabis: unsecured creditors set to lose £46m as scale of collapse laid bare | News | Law Society Gazette
At its peak, the Parabis group employed more than 1,900 people in 31 locations across the UK.

But it suffered badly from reforms of the claims market and the failure to integrate new businesses that had been brought into the group.

The statement explains the Jackson reforms and a new fixed-fees regime for personal injury claims, both of which came into force in April 2013, reduced average revenue per case from £2,300 to £850.

Parabis had responded to the referral fee ban by establishing joint ventures with insurers Direct Line, RSA and Saga, but administrators noted the law firm enjoyed ‘little leverage’ with these partners and profits from claimant work fell from £250 per case to £50.
clementi  insurance  innovation 
january 2016 by JordanFurlong
LegalZoom makes its move with Beaumont Legal acquisition
The 200-year-old Wakefield-based practice, one of the country’s biggest conveyancers, has a turnover exceeding £5m and more than 150 staff, although only four partners. It also operates in commercial law, dispute resolution, and wills and probate.

LegalZoom claims to be the best-known legal brand in America and in January became the first US business to be licensed as an alternative business structure.

LegalZoom UK chief executive, Craig Holt said: “We’re building a unique next generation law firm, from the ground up, with a singular, relentless purpose: to best meet the needs of consumers and businesses in the modern era. This requires the perfect blend of technology, lawyers, and other expertise, and Beaumont Legal are an important piece of that jigsaw.
innovation  clementi  access  onlinr 
december 2015 by JordanFurlong
Law firm and charity joint ABS "changing behaviours" in spinal injury cases
He said there were about 1,200 people in total annually who sustain a spinal cord injury, of which 3-400 might have a legal claim – “thankfully, it’s not a huge number each year, as a proportion of the population”. Aspire Law was now speaking to new clients on “a regular basis”, he reported. “Only today I’ve spoken to two new clients. That gives you an example.”

Interest in the firm has greatly exceeded projections, he said. “In our first year we didn’t really know whether this was going to work or not. We thought ‘we might get a few cases, or we might not’. But it’s just exploded beyond what we thought it would do.”

Aspire Law’s determination to run cases without profiting from clients’ damages has “anecdotally” led to others in the market copying the practice, he said. “You had some players in this space who were quite happy to take deductions from… damages. We hear on the grapevine that they may be beginning to change their behaviour. To be honest, we expected that might [happen].”
clementi  purpose 
december 2015 by JordanFurlong
CBA AB - ABS & the Regulatory Dilemma
It may be that avoiding undue regulatory risk is rational.  It’s hard to argue in favour of pursuing uncertain risks while incurring certain costs.  And the Working Group is certainly right that undoing bad regulatory change is impossible (I’d look at electricity deregulation in Alberta as an example; others would have different perspectives and their own examples).  But it may also be that being unwilling to explore real change ensures our mutual destruction.  The way forward is unclear.
clementi  regulation 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
ABS failures show law is no easy ride | Opinion | Law Society Gazette
Pioneers thought they had a game-changer, but this profession is a tough nut to crack.

The mistake we legal commentators have always made is to treat alternative business structures as something new.

Sure, the addition of private equity money, entry to the stock market and competition from accountants/trade unions/local authorities are all novel concepts.

But the entities themselves face just the same pressures and dangers as any so-called traditional firm.

The ABS tag could never guarantee immunity from the realities of running a law practice. Different business model, same problems.

Earlier this year, I described initial ABSs as canaries down the mine of legal innovation. Some of those feathered fellas are now emerging, spluttering and warning interested onlookers not to venture inside.

Today administrators announced the break-up of one of the most prominent members of the ABS club (even referred to rather misleadingly as a ‘Tesco law' firm), Parabis Group.
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Parabis in seven-way break-up but fellow PE-backed firm Knights expands
UPDATED Private equity-backed alternative business structure Parabis Group has today been broken up into seven pre-pack sales after entering administration, as first predicted this morning by Legal Futures.

The defendant law firms have been bought by the Parabis’s founders, while the claimant business has been split between Bristol-based Lyons Davidson and Manchester firm Carpenters.

A statement issued this afternoon by business advisory firm AlixPartners Services said that Peter Saville, Ben Browne and Anne O’Keefe have been appointed joint administrators over “a number of entities within the Parabis group”.

“Immediately following the appointment a series of sales were effected in relation to the group’s legal service
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
Beyond the Legal Services Act | StephenMayson
At his appearance before the Justice Select Committee on 15 July, the Lord Chancellor indicated that there would be a review of the Legal Services Act 2007 during this Parliament.  It is therefore perhaps timely that, as part of the follow-up to the Ministerial summit called by his predecessor a year earlier, the regulators had already been working together on a number of issues that could improve the lot of both regulator and regulated, and contribute to any such review.
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
ABS update: Parabis, Slater & Gordon, DAS Law and EY
Meanwhile, Slater & Gordon has opened a drop-in legal advice centre at its flagship Manchester office, with England cricket captain Alastair Cook guest of honour at its official launch this week. The firm has sponsored England’s top test run-scorer since the summer of 2014.

Mr Cook said said: “In court, as in cricket, you always want your team to be better than the other side so choosing the right lawyer is vital.”

Since its launch in September, the centre – which is open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday – has averaged around 100 visitors per day. It includes private meeting rooms, a seating area where people can read legal literature and an activity corner for kids.
access  clementi  innovation 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
LSB to probe whether competition has brought down cost of legal services
The Legal Services Board said that understanding changes in prices over time was one of the “key measures of the impacts of regulatory reforms designed to promote competition”.
competition  clementi  pricing 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
ABS v ABS+ for A2J – Slaw
A noteworthy aspect of the Canadian debate on whether to introduce alternative business structures into the legal services sector is the emphasis being given to the potential of ABS to improve access to justice. Instead of just assuming it will happen, I think we need to integrate specific measures into the regulatory framework to make sure that it does. We need to create what I’m calling ABS+.
clementi  access 
november 2015 by JordanFurlong
National | Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales
Accountancy firms have recognised this trend and are positioning themselves to move into the legal marketplace. Since September 2014, 77 accountancy firms have converted to ABS in order to carry out probate services, a field formerly populated by traditional law firms alone. Although this may appear threatening to solicitors and firms, there is nothing to prevent traditional firms from taking advantage of the ABS model in a similar way to provide additional services and remain competitive. The recent changes by the SRA to the 'separate business rule, also specifically enable the traditional law firm model to do just that in relation to accountancy and other professional and specialist support services, including human resources and recruitment. This is one of the reasons why the Law Society urges solicitors to give proper thought to the liberalisation of the rules and consider how their firm could benefit.
clementi  regulation  accountants  competition 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
LegalZoom Settles Fight With North Carolina Bar Over Online Law - Forbes
LegalZoom and the North Carolina State Bar have settled a long-running dispute over whether the online provider of legal documents was serving up unauthorized legal advice, with LegalZoom agreeing to vet all of its documents with North Carolina lawyers and the Bar agreeing to support a state law that would clarify the notoriously murky definition of “unauthorized practice of law.”

LegalZoom filed a $10.5 million antitrust suit against the North Carolina Bar earlier this year after failing to convince officials there to register its service within the state. In a proposed consent agreement, LegalZoom agreed to several terms including providing the full text of blank document templates before customers have to pay for a final version, having licensed North Carolina attorneys review each template, and informing potential customers that its forms aren’t substitutes for advice from a real, live attorney.
competition  upl  regulation  clementi 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
Deregulation of Nonprofit Legal Practice — An ATJ Breakthrough? | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog
It might be that some lawyers currently in small or solo practice would switch to a nonprofit model to take advantage of this freedom, and that might be all to the good.  This flexibility would surely be helpful to the incubator movement, both because most are set up as nonprofits, and because it would offer a model of sustainable organizations into which young lawyers could graduate.
access  innovation  clementi  regulation 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
Entity regulation - whaaaaat?
Even without the introduction of ABS, the legal profession is dealing with new questions around ethics and what constitutes the practice of law that may be best monitored or aided by entity regulation. Take, for example, the debate around whether e-discovery and document review constitutes legal work. In the case of Deloitte, which acquired e-discovery services provider ADT Legal Services, the Law Society of Upper Canada has found professionals other than lawyers can undertake the work. The law society’s position is that whether document review services constitute legal services depends on the specific nature of the review being done.
regulation  governance  competition  clementi 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
First "teaching law firm" for students granted ABS licence
Nottingham Law School (NLS) has created the first “teaching law firm” for students after being granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
clementi  schools  innovation  apprentice  training  admission  access 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
"There's nothing to stop us competing with you", trade union ABS warns high street firms
He pointed out that Unionline does not have the overheads of private practice law firms, does not need to market and does not need to pay equity partners “thumping big bonuses”.

He described as a “political issue” the question of whether Unionline should only represent union members. Mr Rupa predicted that offering services to all consumers may be a “couple of years” away. “If we could use that revenue to improve services for members, why wouldn’t we?”

Mr Rupa, who is not a lawyer, said there were now 50 staff at Unionline’s offices in Sheffield, specialising in personal injury and employment law but branching out into other areas.

He said the ABS still referred work to its panel of law firms, albeit there are fewer than there were when it started operating. “We can’t deal with the volume of work our client base generates, but the key thing is the service to the individual,” Mr Rupa said.

It was unlikely that in time all work would be taken in-house. Panel law firms would still be needed to provide a truly “national coverage”.

Mr Rupa added that other trades unions were looking closely at its model and at whether, instead of setting up their own ABS, to work with Unionline. “A number of trades unions are looking for Unionline to be their panel firm and this is probably the easiest fit. Smaller unions, with 50,000 to 60,000 members, don’t have the same buying power.”
clementi  competition  solos 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
Report on ABS benefits says England and Wales experience "inconclusive"
Where the group showed greater enthusiasm for ABSs was in what it saw as their potential to assist non-profit organisations. It highlighted the two law firms owned by the Salvation Army in Australia, whose fees were used to support its charitable humanitarian law practice, Salvos Legal Humanitarian.

Confusingly, it linked this development with the “legal franchise” model represented in England and Wales by the QualitySolicitors network. The two models are “innovations through ABSs… aimed at providing affordable, accessible legal services”, it said.

On the question of “proportionate regulation”, the group was “concerned that a shift to generally permitting [non-lawyer] majority ownership or control likely creates disproportionate regulatory complexity and risk when weighed against the likely benefits as currently observed through the ABS experiences in Australia and England and Wales to date”.
clementi  regulation 
september 2015 by JordanFurlong
Law Society of Upper Canada backs away from radical ownership reform - The Globe and Mail
Many of the loudest critics in Ontario were those who practise at personal-injury law firms. Ownership reforms in Australia have allowed for Slater & Gordon Ltd., which became the first law firm to list on a stock exchange in 2007, to become a dominant player in the personal-injury law business in both Australia and Britain. Some fear that reforms that would allow Slaters and other massive firms like it to expand into Ontario would see them snap up many independent smaller law firms and result in what critics called “cookie-cutter law” for personal-injury clients.
clementi  innovation  governance  regulation 
september 2015 by JordanFurlong
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