Market monitor

Private equity takes next step in the law with acquisition of leading family practice

Marilyn Stowe

Stowe Family Law – which claims to be the largest specialist family law firm in the country – has become the latest legal practice to accept private equity investment after signing a deal with mid-market backer Livingbridge. The plan is to build a “larger national footprint”, opening up to 30 additional offices over the next five years – it currently has 10.

February 23rd, 2017

UK first as Ulster University launches legal innovation centre

Professor Paddy Nixon

Ulster University launched the UK’s first legal innovation centre last night, bringing together its law school, school of computing and intelligent systems, and global law firms Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie. It aims to operate at the intersection between legal process innovation, technology and access to justice.

February 21st, 2017

Downward trend in conveyancing firms stopped in its tracks as work volumes rise

Mark Riddick Search Acumen chairman

The total number of law firms registering conveyancing transactions rose 4% in 2016 to 5,572, halting five years going the other way, and they are busier than before the financial crash, new figures have shown. However, the overall trend of active conveyancing firms has been steeply downwards in the last decade.

February 21st, 2017

Lawyers sue to discover extent of information obtained by “corporate spy”

Harminder Bains

A solicitor and barrister who act for an anti-asbestos campaign are in a legal battle over what confidential and privileged information was passed on by a supposed TV documentary maker who was actually placed in the campaign to spy on its activities.

February 20th, 2017

Gloomy Slater & Gordon sees shares tumble to all-time low after warning of UK trading difficulties

Slater & Gordon Reservoir Vic office

The recovery of Slater & Gordon’s UK business is going “slower than expected”, with trading results being adjusted downwards as a result, and the negative mood about the firm is now hitting its home business in Australia, it has admitted in a trading update that appeared to be preparing investors for disappointing half-year results later this month.

February 16th, 2017

“Our legal services will stay on top”, minister declares in face of growing threat of competition post-Brexit

Sir Oliver Heald

Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald has struck a bullish tone of defiance in response to concerns that Germany and the Netherlands are creating English-language commercial courts to compete with the UK for disputes post Brexit.

February 13th, 2017

Baker McKenzie to introduce AI-based due diligence technology as part of innovation drive

Jason Marty

Baker McKenzie, the world’s second biggest law firm, has announced plans to introduce due diligence software based on machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, as part of an innovation drive that looks to import ‘design thinking’ into how it delivers legal services.

February 7th, 2017

Burford and Gateley beat the market but most legal stocks underperformed in 2016

share price

Most listed UK businesses with a strong legal element did not prove good investments in 2016, although litigation finance business Burford Capital and national law firm Gateley both bucked the trend in eye-catching fashion, a Legal Futures analysis has found.

February 6th, 2017

Low-overhead barrister law firm aims “to pass on cost savings to commercial clients”

David Dabbs

Two barristers have launched a Bar Standards Board-regulated entity offering commercial advice as an alternative to traditional chambers, hoping to pass on the savings from low overheads to clients. Lorna Hackett and David Dabbs have formed Hampshire-based Hackett & Dabbs.

February 3rd, 2017

Growth of alternative providers – especially Big 4 – could push law firms into ‘contractor’ role

KPMG

Large law firms should consider becoming “general contractors” to manage their clients’ disaggregated legal needs amidst growing demand from in-house lawyers to use alternative legal services providers – with the Big Four accountants a threat “that cannot be overstated” – a new report has suggested.

February 1st, 2017