Legal Business

Legal freelancing enters the big league as LOD seals £25m merger with Australian firm

Legal freelancing enters the big league as LOD seals £25m merger with Australian firm

In the largest New Law merger to date, the UK’s biggest freelance lawyer service Lawyers On Demand (LOD) has sealed a deal with Australia’s AdventBalance to create a £25m business.

Revenue at LOD rose by 42% in the 2014/15 financial year to hit £12.3m and, with the merger doubling turnover, the deal is set to catapult LOD into the UK’s 100 largest legal services businesses, pulling in more than established law firms such as Harbottle & Lewis and Boodle Hatfield, less than a decade since its launch.

Legal Business

New Law enters the big league: Lawyers On Demand seals £25m merger with Australian firm

New Law enters the big league: Lawyers On Demand seals £25m merger with Australian firm

In the largest New Law merger to date, the UK’s biggest freelance lawyer service Lawyers On Demand (LOD) has sealed a deal with Australia’s AdventBalance to create a £25m business.

The deal, signed after six months of negotiations, establishes LOD’s first overseas presence through AdventBalance’s network of offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The combined company, which will see AdventBalance rebranded as LOD later this year, will house over 600 lawyers and consultants carrying out short-term secondments and legal projects. The tie-up comes as LOD prepares to roll out a landmark deal to service the world’s second largest international law firm, DLA Piper, when workflow increases or costs need to be kept low.

Revenue at LOD rose by 42% in the 2014/15 financial year to hit £12.3m. The combination with AdventBalance, which is run by former Freehills partner Ken Jagger and the ex-head of business development at Allen & Overy John Knox, will double the size of business. It catapults LOD into the UK’s 100 largest legal services businesses, pulling in more than established firms such as Harbottle & Lewis, Gordons and Boodle Hatfield, less than a decade since its launch.

Knox said the merger ‘makes perfect sense’ as ‘it will create a New Law venture with the scale and momentum to compete for work in an unprecedented way’.

City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, which owns 80% of LOD, has been handed two places on the new board.

LOD’s model has been replicated by a host of the UK’s largest law firms increasingly conscious of the desire among associates for a greater work-life balance in a shift towards New Law. Over 30% of the UK’s 20 largest law firms, including Magic Circle firms Allen & Overy and Freshfields, established their own freelance contracting businesses since LOD launched in 2007 while the DLA Piper deal marked a change in market perceptions towards the company part-owned by BLP.

LOD co-founder Simon Harper told Legal Business that AdventBalance’s Asian operations ‘prove the New Law model can work in the region’ and that it ‘can grow anywhere where there are multinationals’.

He added: ‘We are in the midst of market disruption so we don’t really know where we will end up but what we do know is that we want LOD to be a leader in New Law. As part of that we’re becoming global. New Law is growing up but we’ve got to keep innovating.’

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Lawyers on Demand launches in Manchester

Lawyers on Demand launches in Manchester

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) spin-off lawyer contracting service Lawyers on Demand (LoD) is set to launch its first hub outside of London in Manchester, after BLP in March announced it will open an office in the UK’s second largest legal market.

LoD, which was launched by Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in 2007 but hived off into a separate company in 2012, is recruiting local legal talent ahead of the Manchester launch in the autumn of 2014. LoD will initially launch the service as a pilot, offering organisations across the North-West access to local, qualified freelance lawyers on ‘secondment style’ arrangements.

 

LoD has more than 200 lawyers on its books and has carried out assignments for Google, Barclays Bank and the BBC, which relocated to Salford in 2011. The firm turned over £9m in its first year after spinning out from BLP, which retains an 80% stake in the company.

 

The expansion is being spearheaded by Tim Bratton, who joined LoD in September 2013 after more than a decade at the Financial Times. Operations in the North West will be managed out of BLP’s new Manchester office, scheduled to open in September. LoD lawyers will have access to BLP professional support and training.

Bratton, who used LoD lawyers during his time at the Financial Times, told Legal Business: ‘The success of LoD when we launched in London came from developing a small pool of quality lawyers and placing the emphasis on getting the right quality of lawyers. We went from five or six lawyers to nearly 200 in London and we see ourselves replicating that model in the North West.’

LoD is also looking to expand its remote working service, LoD On Call, by recruiting local lawyers to work remotely with its clients.

LoD co-founder, Simon Harper, said: ‘Twenty years ago, when I was looking for a legal training contract, local options in the North-West were very different. But over recent years, the legal market has fundamentally changed. Manchester is the UK’s second largest legal market and now seems poised for further growth. We want to hear from talented lawyers in the area who have a desire to practise law on their own terms but without compromising on quality and interest in the work they do.’

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Virtual law: Mercedes-Benz UK GC sets up Radius Law

Virtual law: Mercedes-Benz UK GC sets up Radius Law

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.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Pioneering Lawyers On Demand business secures high profile ex FT general counsel to plot growth

Pioneering Lawyers On Demand business secures high profile ex FT general counsel to plot growth

Former Financial Times general counsel Tim Bratton is set to join the Berwin Leighton Paisner-backed Lawyers on Demand (LOD) in September as practice development director. Jonathan Brenner (pictured), co-founder of LOD, told Legal Business he was ‘delighted’ to get the high profile Bratton on board.

Bratton joins in a newly-created role to help drive the growth of the legal service provider with in-house teams and law firms.

Bratton, who joined the Financial Times (FT) in 2000, is a regular blogger and user of Twitter, tweeting under the name @legalbrat. He became GC of the business newspaper in 2003 and has been director of intellectual property since 2011.

During his time at the FT, Bratton used a variety of innovative internal and external processes that enabled the publisher to reduce costs, including team ‘on-shoring’, launching a small Belfast-based team, IP fixed fee outsourcing and implementation of an ‘all-you-can-eat’ tender model.

LOD co-founder Simon Harper said: ‘When we began searching for someone to lead practice development for LOD, we knew they needed the right aptitude to move into a business role in an innovative and entrepreneurial growth company – Tim has these skills in abundance. Tim is a trusted voice in the legal marketplace, with a reputation for legal innovation, and he already embodies many of LOD’s values so it’s great to have him on board.’

Bratton commented: ‘I have known Simon for over a decade and watched with interest as LOD has grown. I am fascinated with innovation in the legal sector and engaged LOD lawyers while I was in-house so really understand the benefits to clients. With the recent explosion in alternative legal services, it seemed a perfect time to join LOD and I hope that my knowledge of being a GC with first-hand experience will help us continue to deliver for clients and expand the business.’

LOD recently launched LOD On Call, a new pay-as-you-go model to complement its secondment model. LOD On Call offers clients access to LOD lawyers who can perform all the legal functions remotely.

LOD has established itself as one of the most high profile ‘alternative’ providers of legal services since its launch in 2007, with the firm expanding substantially in recent years. The business was spun out of BLP in 2012. LOD, which provides experienced and vetted legal ‘temps’ without the infrastructure costs of a law firm, currently has around 120 lawyers on its books.

 

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Pinsents launches flexi-lawyer service for clients

Pinsent Masons is set to launch a contract lawyer service that will provide clients with access to lawyers on a temporary basis as and when they are needed.

‘Vario’ will offer in-house teams a group of freelance lawyers with a variety of experience to cover anything from fixed-term projects to maternity leave. The move follows clients’ increased demand for flexible lawyers and addresses the core issues of resource, cost and skills that often affect the in-house legal teams.

Pinsents partner Alison Bond, who heads Vario, said: ‘Clients are increasingly asking for access to flexible resources. However, we wanted to take the idea a step further and launch the next generation of this type of service.