Manchester legal pioneer, Zoe Holland, scoops prestigious award

Zoe Holland: “I didn’t really see it coming.”

It’s rare for a 41-year old to win the Outstanding Innovator of the Year Award at the prestigious annual Claims Innovation Awards ceremony. But then again Zoe Holland from Manchester, managing director of Zebra Legal Consulting, is rapidly building up a reputation for being a genuine pioneer in her chosen profession.

Last Wednesday evening (21 May) Zoe was given a standing ovation as she was presented with her award at the Claims Innovation Awards 2014, held at the Midland Hotel in her native city and attended by approximately 300 delegates. Quindell Commercial Director, Chris Shaw, referred to her work as “brilliant” and praised Zoe for making “a big contribution in a short period of time, showing creativity and an eye for an opportunity by founding a business that is committed to innovation in legal services.”

He added that the panel’s decision to honour Zoe had been unanimous, and that she “has become recognised as a trusted adviser to law firms and key stakeholders with her innovative approach.”

The award is usually made to a respected individual within the legal profession with decades of experience behind them. However, Zoe’s outstanding not to mention ground breaking recent work within the field of due diligence meant that she was a highly deserving not to mention popular recipient.

“There really is nobody else in the industry doing what Zebra does,” says Zoe. “When it comes to due diligence the legal landscape is changing fast. In our new era of legal services, greater visibility and a deeper understanding of law firms’ financial profile, value and operational risk is fundamental to investment, growth and brand protection. Zebra has managed not only to keep in step with this change but to anticipate it. Our due diligence spans all areas of legal service. There has been a focus in personal injury due to the specific sector changes. We are very much ‘of the moment’ and that’s something I’m proud and excited about.”

Established by Zoe in 2012, Zebra Legal Consulting is a law firm management and technical due diligence consulting firm dedicated to helping legal practices and key legal stakeholders (such as banks and insurers) move with the times. Zebra’s approach is to help law firms adapt, and evolve to remain competitive, profitable and risk aware.

Zebra’s advice and specialist reports (which includes personal injury due diligence) are often the starting point for business improvement, funding options and acquisition opportunities together with merger, sale and expansion plans. Only recently the firm acted as technical due diligence advisor in the high profile takeover of law firm Simpson Millar by the AIM listed financial services group Fairpoint.

“We have come a long way as a firm in a relatively short space of time but that reflects the pace of change within the legal landscape. Our roles within due diligence started within the personal injury sector, but this has evolved into other areas such as commercial property, commercial litigation and more niche areas such serious fraud” says Zoe.

And as for the award? “It’s something I am extremely proud of, although I really didn’t see it coming,” adds Zoe. “It’s quite something when your peers acknowledge you in that kind of way. I’m not afraid to say I was a little emotional!”

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