Knights targets non-lawyer professionals in next stage of growth

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3 February 2016

David Beech

Beech: only the larger full-service law firms will survive

Knights, the law firm backed by leading businessman James Caan, is targeting accountants, tax specialists and town planners as part of a plan to recruit a 100 more professionals this year.

David Beech, chief executive of Knights, said he expected around half of the new recruits to be non-lawyers.

“We major in law at the moment. We want to grow that and add lots of other things that clients want, such as accountancy – particularly on the advisory side – planning, property finance and tax.”

Mr Beech said only around 10% of the firm’s fee-earners were currently non-lawyers.

However, he said that although accountancy firms were expanding and doing more law, the main competition for Knights was still other law firms, particularly the bigger ones closest to his firm’s offices.

“Our aim is to be a leading professional services business,” he said. “We will see a reduction in the number of full-service law firms, and only the larger ones will survive the evolutionary process.”

He was speaking after completion of the acquisition of Oxford-based Darbys, which was first announced last November. Following the purchase – which was principally funded by Allied Irish Bank – Knights employs around 300 professionals in offices in Oxford, Chester, Cheltenham, Derby, Colchester, Hale and Stoke-on-Trent, and has a projected turnover of £40m.

Mr Beech said the deal was the firm’s biggest acquisition so far. He went on: “This deal has allowed Knights to achieve its targets a year early. Now is the time to be looking forward at how we can provide integrated solutions to our clients with legal services being part of a wider offering.

“Regional accountancy groups, tax specialists and real estate advisory organisations located outside of the major cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, are the main focus, but we remain a flexible and adaptable business that can respond to the needs of the changing market place.”

Mr Beech added that he was delighted both with the speed of the firm’s growth and by progress in establishing a “one-firm culture”.

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