HR consultancy and pensions provider enter legal market with ABSs

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25 March 2015


Robinson: ABS opens in May

Robinson: ABS opens in May

A business offering unregulated legal services and HR consultancy is to launch an alternative business structure (ABS) to add reserved areas of law done in-house to its extensive menu of employment and HR advice.

Meanwhile, a self-invested pensions and investment specialist group has added a start-up ABS to its line-up of businesses, specialising in property law and conveyancing.

Surrey-based ESP, which offers fixed-fee packages of employment legal advice, HR support, and health and safety support, as well as other HR resources, received its ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) earlier this month.

ESP Law Limited’s head of legal practice (HOLP), Nina Robinson, is currently ESP’s head of legal and in-house solicitor. Her role includes managing the services provided to ESP customers by external law firms, which include leading Newcastle firm Ward Hadaway. The head of finance and administration is ESP’s managing director, Peter Byrne.

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In ABS licence terms and conditions that have become routine, the SRA granted ESP Law a waiver from separate business rule restrictions, with specific conditions designed to ensure that clients are not confused about the regulatory status of each of the two businesses.

Ms Robinson said she did not expect ESP Law to be finalised until the ABS licence became effective on 1 May, but would not comment further.

DPM Legal is an ABS start-up launched by Dentons Holdings group, also based in Surrey. It has both pension management and wealth management divisions. The ABS, which will be a “niche property and conveyancing law firm”, received its SRA licence at the beginning of this month.

DPM’s managing director and HOLP, solicitor David Kearsley, will work alongside chartered legal executive Charlotte Avens. He told Legal Futures: “There is a synergy with Dentons Pensions Management because, as well as winning work from the world generally, we will be referred work [within the group]… and understand the pension products that are being offered, and the ramifications for the property transaction.”

His view was echoed by the chairman of Dentons Holdings, Martyn Rose. He described DPM as being complementary to the group’s pensions business – which has over £2.5bn assets under administration and administers more than 1,800 commercial properties. The business was a “niche, highly technical discipline”, he said. When the group was looking to diversify, a property and conveyancing business had been “the obvious answer”.

Mr Kearsley has been a property solicitor since qualifying nine years ago. He has worked in both residential conveyancing and commercial property.

In other ABS news, Chancery Lane-based commercial practice, Cubism Law, has obtained a licence from the SRA with the goal of expanding its services. Cubism has 22 self-employed consultant solicitors and 12 supporting solicitors, and is loosely based on a barristers’ chambers.

The HOLP, its managing director and founder, Andrew Pena, a commercial litigator and former partner at Fieldfisher, said the ABS was “a more appropriate and modern structure” that would give Cubism “greater flexibility to provide a wider range of services”.

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