DLA Piper yesterday announced that it has become a minority shareholder in LawVest Ltd, which describes itself as “a holding company set up to exploit the significant opportunities that are being created by the structural, regulatory and commercial changes occuring in the legal market”.
Although LawVest”s website is coy about its intentions, The Times today reports (paywall) that LawVest intends to build a nationwide network of legal services aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, that DLA has invested £10 million, that LawVest has recruited 40 lawyers and that the services will launch under a new brand name in January 2012.
As The Times observes, this investment into a new ABS firm is “the first by a big-name law firm and the first to target the needs of the small and medium-sized business community”.
The Legal Services Act 2007 allows the setting up of ABSs, which the Solicitors Regulatory Authority describes as:
“ABSs or alternative business structures are a new form of practice that will allow non-lawyer organisations to provide legal services, and lawyers much greater flexibility in the way they practise. The introduction of ABSs will allow much wider options in how lawyers and non-lawyers can share the management and control of a business which provides reserved legal services to the public. ABSs will allow external investment and ownership of law firms.”
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