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Italian firm applies for London office to become ABS, as RJW is licensed

27 April 2012

Italian commercial firm Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati has applied to the SRA to convert its London office into an alternative business structure (ABS).

The move came as Russell Jones & Walker today obtained a licence to become an ABS, allowing it to be owned by Australian law firm Slater & Gordon from Monday.

Pirola, which has an annual turnover of €100m, has applied for an ABS licence to allow accountants and lawyers in its London partnership to share revenues and profits.

The firm, which has nine offices in Italy and three in London, opened an office in London at the start of 2011.

London partner Colin Jamieson said: “The Italian legal market is very different to the UK. While we could provide a full range of business services in the UK, we would have to keep the financials separate.

“So we have decided to apply to become an ABS to allow us to ensure we can build a fully integrated office here providing a full range of multi-disciplinary services.”

Andrew Grech, Slater & Gordon’s managing partner, said following the approval of its ABS application and purchase of RJW for £53.8m, the combined firm aimed to dominate the UK market for “personal legal services”, including conveyancing (see solicitorsjournal.com, 6 February 2012).

“The business structure is the wrong thing to focus on,” Grech said. “The key thing is the strategy. We are targeting a specific part of the market and we will be unrelenting in pursuit of that market.

“It includes personal injury, employment law, crime and regulatory and the whole suite of private client services, including conveyancing.”

RJW is the fifth ABS to be registered after Co-operative Legal Services, John Welch & Stammers, Lawbridge Solicitors and NewLaw Legal, a personal injury specialist based in Cardiff.