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Parabis Law receives the first ABS licence approving PE investment

Chief executive notes frustration over the time taken to obtain the licence

22 August 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Parabis Law has today received a licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales (SRA) to convert to an alternative business structure (ABS).

The UK top-40 law firm will have private equity funding from Duke Street. Parabis Law is the first law firm in the UK to have an ABS licence that approves private equity investment.

Parabis Law specialises in claimant and defendant insurance work, operating through the brands Plexus Law and Cogent Law. The limited liability partnership, which employs 1,184 people, reported a turnover of £108m in the last financial year.

The Parabis Group offers a wide range of non-legal insurance services from loss adjusting and rehabilitation to risk management.

Tim Oliver, chief executive of Parabis, said: “This is a fast-changing, highly-competitive market. It has been important to secure ABS status so that we can compete effectively and retain our innovative edge.

“Admittedly, at times, we have felt frustrated at the time it has taken to secure our licence but we are very pleased with the robustness of the application process.”

Duke Street partner Iain Kennedy said Parabis presented a “unique opportunity” to invest in a “fast-growing, dynamic and fragmented” sector.

“The attractions for us are clear: a market leader with an unrivalled track record of revenue and profit growth, a differentiated business model, and the best management team in the industry.

“The intention is to support management with Duke Street’s operational expertise in transforming the business from a professional services firm to a business process outsourcer, and to drive the continued consolidation of the legal services industry via Duke Street’s successful buy-and-build model.”

An ABS is a business providing regulated reserved legal activities but which has either, or both, non-lawyer owners and managers. Traditionally, UK law firms have had to be owned and managed only by lawyers.

The non-lawyer ownership and management of legal services providers – under the Legal Services Act 2007 – was one of a significant raft of reforms designed to liberalise the regulation and provision of legal services in England and Wales.

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