Slater & Gordon is set to grow its UK business after it announced its first half-year results since the takeover of Russell Jones & Walker. The listed Australian firm – now an ABS in England and Wales – posted a 46.5% increase in its revenue for the last six months of 2012.
Russell Jones & Walker has today announced the completion of its transition to the Slater & Gordon brand name following last year’s headline grabbing merger with Slater & Gordon in Australia – the country’s largest consumer firm and the first in the world to be publicly listed.
Two of the UK’s first alternative business structures – Slater & Gordon and Co-operative Legal Services – have reported strong increases in income, although profits at the Co-op have been hit by its expansion plans.
Alternative business structure, ABS. It is hardly a snappy name. It means nothing to the general public. It doesn’t mean much more to the business community. But, for private equity firms, it’s a chink of light – a way in to a £25bn market. So, is this a gold rush? Are we likely to see high levels of PE activity? Nick West, director of legal markets at Legal Futures Associate LexisNexis considers the possibilities.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has given Australia’s Slater & Gordon the green light to take over Russell Jones & Walker after granting it the fifth alternative business structure licence. The move will kick-start a strategy that will include further acquisitions.
There is in excess of £1bn of private equity money available for investment in the legal market, while at least one UK law firm will proceed to a public listing this year, one of the profession’s leading bankers, James Tsolakis of RBS, has predicted.
Slater & Gordon’s takeover of Russell Jones & Walker is evidence that law firms are “joining the real business world” and that there is realisable value in legal practices, leading consultants have said.
Russell Jones & Walker aims to use its new access to capital to become one of the two or three players that will “dominate” the consumer legal market in the years to come, its chief executive has said.
Around 18 months ago, Andrew Grech, the managing director of Slater & Gordon (S&G), gave a presentation to a seminar run by accountants Baker Tilly. He began by showing a slick corporate video outlining the history and achievements of S&G. Two things struck me from this. First was a cut-away of S&G’s headquarters, at the top of which was a huge ‘Slater & Gordon’ sign, the kind of self-promotion UK firms simply don’t indulge in (at the moment).
The world’s first listed legal practice, Australia’s Slater & Gordon, is to enter the UK market after agreeing to buy national law firm Russell Jones & Walker for £53.8 million. All of RJW’s principals will continue to work in the new business and are becoming shareholders in S&G.