Well-known criminal law firm Kaim Todner closed its doors yesterday after One Legal – the alternative business structure that owns it – was put into voluntary liquidation.
Some 80 staff at the two businesses – as well as north London firm Guney Clarke & Ryan, which One Legal also bought in 2016 – are set to lose their jobs.
Its London caseload has been passed to Nicholls & Nicholls, and its northern work to Manchester firm Garratts.
One Legal bought Kaim Todner in March 2016 shortly after it announced its intention to close. One Legal’s boss is Trevor Howarth, who first made waves as founder of now-defunct Stobart Barristers.
A key issue is an ongoing dispute between Mr Howarth and Kaim Todner founder Karen Todner. Mr Howarth has brought proceedings in the High Court alleging that Ms Todner failed to disclose significant liabilities when she sold the firm, a claim Ms Todner strongly rejects.
Mr Howarth told Legal Futures that such liabilities kept appearing and putting a strain on the firm’s cash flow. “I put a lot of personal finance into this business – the question was whether to put in more or focus on pursuing the claim… We couldn’t have done any more.”
He said he “felt very sorry for the staff”, but predicted that the many “excellent solicitors” who had trained with the firm in recent years would be able to find new positions.
Ms Todner said it was “not surprising” that the firm was facing financial difficulties given what she said were internal events at the firm in recent times.
Stressing that she denied that she failed to disclose debts, she added: “It is One Legal that has gone into liquidation, not Kaim Todner. Kaim Todner has not traded for over two years.”
Mr Howarth’s original aim was to challenge the standard criminal law firm model, centralising the back-office function and providing a bespoke IT and case management solution, and freeing up the lawyers to focus on their work.