ABS platform now hosts five firms after latest acquisition

Burne: Aim is to make SME law firms sustainable

Law firm platform Bamboo has acquired Midlands-based Hawkins Hatton, making it the fifth practice operating through its umbrella alternative business structure.

It is also the second deal in a matter of weeks to be funded by Harbour Litigation Funding, which has added law firm financing and lending to its business and is in talks to extend a £30m credit facility to support Bamboo’s growth ambitions.

Bamboo was developed in 2020 by virtual firm Carbon Law Partners and provides back and middle office support.

It both owns law firms and also provides a platform for start-up firms or those that want to delegate operational issues to someone else. It is looking to acquire firms with fee income from £3m to £20m.

Carbon sits on the platform, along with Unique Solutions Legal, a firm based in Manchester which specialises in consumer credit agreements, HooperHyde, a commercial and litigation firm based in Solihull, and Newport Land & Law, a property and private client firm in Wakefield.

Like the others, Hawkins Hatton, a corporate boutique based in Dudley, will retain its name following the deal and its two owners – Colin Rodrigues and Harminder Sandhu – are remaining with the firm.

Bamboo founder Michael Burne said: “Hawkins Hatton fits the profile of firms we look for perfectly. It is a well-run business with a strong local brand, high-quality business relationships, repeat clients, excellent lawyers, and great growth potential.”

“Our vision is to create an eco-system which ensures small to mid-sized law firms have a sustainable future by taking away the burden of regulation, insurance, financial management, technology and administration.

“I see significant potential to grow Bamboo and expect this to be the first of a series of acquisitions. A bigger network generates more cross-selling opportunities and greater economies of scale.”

Colin Rodrigues of Hawkins Hatton said: “Joining Bamboo is a terrific move for our practice, our people and our clients. It is a compelling offer that means we can focus on what we are good at – high-quality commercial legal advice – while leaving administration in the hands of experienced professionals.

“We see real opportunities for growth, not least by working with other members of the Bamboo Group.”

Mr Burne said he was in discussions with Harbour about a £30m facility to back future acquisitions.

Ellora MacPherson, Harbour’s managing director and chief investment officer, said: “There are lawyers out there like Michael and fellow director, William Brewis, who have strong business models and realistic ambitions, and we are keen to play our part in supporting them.

“Bamboo’s leaders have strong backgrounds inside and outside legal services in building large businesses and that blend of sector and management expertise was attractive to Harbour.”

Harbour recently funded Rothley Law to take on a 41-strong private client team from Shoosmiths as it looks to create a “nationally recognised consumer brand”.

Elsewhere, Williamsons Solicitors has grown its criminal law practice by acquiring fellow Hull firm Amber Solicitors, whose founders, Richard Fowler and Ian Phillip, have both moved across.

Mr Fowler said joining Williamsons would allow for expansion and the ability to provide clients with other legal services.

Gloucestershire firm Gwyn James Solicitors has taken over Dean Conveyancing, with founder Ros Yemm and her team moving to Gwyn James’ head office in Coleford.

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