The virtual law space has a new entrant after former Mercedes-Benz UK group general counsel and head of compliance Iain Larkins this month left his role at the luxury vehicle company to found virtual commercial firm Radius Law.
Speaking to Legal Business, Larkins, who has worked in-house for 14 years, says the fundamental premise of Radius Law is to provide good commercial advice in areas including contract, disputes and competition at a ‘highly competitive’ rate, something he says is still difficult to achieve at many traditional law firms.
‘We created a model where the lawyers are free to give good commercial advice and worked hard on finding the right lawyers. Most of the lawyers have previous commercial experience and in many cases, have done business roles in-house. It was a rigorous process to prove they would give good commercial judgment rather than just legalese,’ Larkins commented.
The company is starting from small beginnings, with five lawyers on its books, who will all work from home and none of whom are expected to bring clients with them.
‘What’s attractive to lawyers wanting to join is there’s no expectation that you’ll bring a big following. Lawyers can come in and do the work they love doing without the hassle of having to bring a bunch of clients,’ Larkins adds.
Similar small sized models to Radius Law have been steadily emerging across the sector, including virtual firm Mackay Carter Shaw headed by former London Stock Exchange legal chief Tom Mackay together with Jennifer Carter Shaw, a commercial lawyer formerly at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.
At the larger end of the scale 130-lawyer Keystone Law this year converted to an alternative business structure and turned over £12.3m (an increase of 9.8% on 2011/12). Elsewhere, leading flexible resource providers such as Axiom and Lawyers on Demand (LoD) have traditionally sent lawyers to work with the client on site, although this summer LoD launched a new offering, ‘on call’, where lawyers will undertake legal work for other law firms, often from their own home.
Radius Law received authorisation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 1 September.