Prospect of MDPs "catching the imagination" of large law firms, survey finds

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By Legal Futures

14 February 2012


Murphy: MDPs would transform the provision of professional services

Large law firms are showing increasing interest in forming multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs) with non-lawyer professionals, according to new research.

The survey of 126 of the top 250 firms by accountants Smith & Williamson – including 27 of the top 40 – found that a third are interested in joining with a non-legal practice in the next two years.

Further, 93% of respondents agreed that merger and acquisition activity arising from the Legal Services Act will lead some law firms to raise external capital, up from 79% last year.

Two firms in the top 40 told the survey that they are ‘likely’ to join forces with a non-legal practice in the next two years and seek external finance, with a further six firms describing such moves as possible.

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Three of the eight firms reported a public listing as a possibility, with private equity on the agenda for others.

Giles Murphy, who leads the professional practices team at Smith & Williamson – which advised Russell Jones & Walker on its best dry dog foods

hase-of-russell-jones-walker” target=”_blank”>recent deal with Slater & Gordon

– said that for all the focus on law firms going public, “it is the opportunities to join with firms from other professions which are catching the imagination”.

He explained: “Commentators have been saying for a long time that the Legal Services Act will accelerate consolidation among professional firms in the high street, but few, if any, had predicted such widespread interest among the larger firms. While we are unlikely to see magic circle firms tie up with their equivalents from the surveying or accounting fields, we could see a number of ‘silver circle’ mergers across the professions.”

Mr Murphy predicted that such developments “would transform, not just the legal landscape, but the provision of professional services across the UK”, suggesting that the economic climate may be fuelling thoughts of MDPs.

“The opportunity to merge with other professionals is likely to be of interest to high street firms, some regional practices and even the Big 4 accountants. Indeed, PwC has announced that it is looking at formally tying up with their legal practice PwC Legal.

“As a result, within a few years from now, multi-disciplinary practices could become common, not just on the high street, but also in the City.”

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One Response to “Prospect of MDPs "catching the imagination" of large law firms, survey finds”

  1. The words monopoly and cartel spring to mind and, with only a few exceptions, when did that ever benefit the consumer?

  2. John Wright on October 2nd, 2012 at 9:42 am

Legal Futures Blog

Lawyers must now draw on the data and drive change

Chris Marston 2014

The results from this year’s legal services consumer tracker survey make for interesting reading. In its sixth year, the research finds that a firm’s reputation continues to grow in importance, holding its top slot as the number one factor influencing choice of lawyer, with price remaining a strong second, reflected in a shift towards higher numbers of fixed-fee transactions. Alongside, it reports that trust in lawyers has declined to 42%, from 47% in 2012. It’s useful information as far as it goes, but what is the sector going to do with it?

September 26th, 2016