Legal Business

New Law pioneer LOD primed for growth as BCLP sells to buyout house

Lawyers On Demand (LOD) has secured new private equity backers in place of parent Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) as the New Law pioneer gears up for a growth drive aimed at positioning it as a global player.

Buyout house Bowmark Capital is acquiring BCLP’s entire stake of 62% in LOD for an undisclosed sum. The sale is expected to carry a multi-million pound price tag and represent a significant windfall for BCLP, which was formed by the merger earlier this year of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and US law firm Bryan Cave.  James Lever at Livingstone Partners advised BCLP and LOD’s shareholders, while Stephenson Harwood advised Bowmark on the deal with a team lead by Jonathan Pittal. Jessica Adams at Macfarlanes advised for LOD and Alex Lewis at Baker McKenzie represented the management.

The contract lawyer business, which launched back in 2007 as part of BLP, two years ago merged with Australia’s AdventBalance, and last year posted global turnover of £35m, up 15% annually. The firm, which has operated as a separate business to BLP for six years, has expanded dramatically over the last decade to become one of the most high profile New Law brands in the UK.

Further weakening its links with BCLP will not only prime the business for further growth but make it easier for LOD to build on the 2015 deal with DLA Piper to widen its services to other major law firms. The business had initially focused largely on providing locum lawyers and services to in-house legal teams. After the sale, LOD will maintain a contractual relationship with BCLP to provide services.

‘We absolutely will be working with other law firms, but it wasn’t the primary driver for [the sale],’ LOD co-founder Simon Harper (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘It’s about a faster growth model with new service lines in new territories. It does feel like an important next step. The level of interest and excitement in the sector made the process very easy.’

LOD managing director Tom Hartley commented: ‘This deal was three to four months in the making. We wanted to make sure we had the right partners to back the growth model we have in place here.’ LOD expects to see double-digit revenue growth this year.

LOD has ten offices including multiple sites in each of Australia and Asia, as well as London, New York, Munich and Dubai. It has more than 650 lawyers and consultants on its books and more than 500 corporate and law firm clients. Bowmark, meanwhile, invests in UK mid-market companies and has £850m under management.

BCLP partner Neville Eisenberg commented: ‘BCLP has committed to remain close to LOD, partnering with the business for its flexible lawyer needs and we look forward to seeing the results of this exciting new chapter in LOD’s development.’

BCLP, meanwhile, has far from turned from legal innovation after earlier this month announcing the launch of legal tech start-up in Swiftagree.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk