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Nine top-40 UK law firms considering tie up with non-lawyers

Five may seek private equity investment, research finds 

22 February 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Nine of the UK’s top 40 law firms are considering joining with a non-solicitors firm and forming an alternative business structure (ABS) in the next two years, according to research by Smith & Williamson. Among these, three firms said such a move was likely.

The survey found that accountancy firms are the preferred type of business with which to tie up.

In addition, six top-40 firms said they may seek external financing. Five of these said they are considering private equity, one potentially raising over £50m.

The survey received responses from 119 law firms, of which 21 are in the top 40 and 54 are in the top 100.

Among the top 100, 16 firms said they are interested in joining with a non-solicitors firm in the next two years.

A quarter of all respondents said their first preference is to form an ABS with an accountancy firm, followed by a patent agency and surveyors’ firm.

Those who said they may seek external financing said this would be used to fund the long-term development of their practice, further develop their sectors and fund recruitment of teams and acquisitions.

The survey found that ten of the top 40 firms acquired a team in the past year and four firms acquired two or more teams in the same period. The majority of these teams consisted of five or fewer individuals, but three teams included more than 20 people.

Among respondents in the top 100, 20 firms said they had acquired a team in the past year.

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