The Barrister Group (TBG) – the business that owns 240-member Clerksroom – has become the first chambers to accepted private equity funding.
The eight-figure minority investment from LDC – part of Lloyds Bank – will “support the group’s growth in the legal sector as it looks to attract more barristers and instructions with its tech-enabled alternative chambers model”.
Clerksroom has long been at the forefront of innovation at the Bar, allowing barristers to work without the cost of physical chambers, creating ‘Billy Bot’, a robot clerk, and developing an end-to-end case management system for barristers, Chambers365. Lloyds was involved in the latter as Clerksroom’s bank.
TBG also owns direct access portal Clerksroom Direct and the investment will in part be used to raise the public profit of the public’s ability to go directly to barristers.
Stephen Ward, co-founder of TBG and a one-time clerk, said: “The traditional chambers model has its place, but might not be for all barristers. Our technology and our model offer many advantages that other chambers may not be able to match.
“We are building the Bar of the 21st century and LDC’s experience of building tech-enabled services companies will help us take the next step in making that happen.”
Oliver Schofield, investment director at LDC, said: “The team at TBG is bringing disruptive tech-enabled solutions to the legal market in a move that offers greater flexibility and alternative ways of working for the Bar, whilst importantly improving access to justice for the public.
“TBG has the potential to revolutionise the future of the Bar by offering a real alternative to the traditional chambers model and we’re excited to support the team as they continue to pursue their growth plans.”
Harry Hodgkin, chief executive and co-founder, and a former barrister, added: “LDC’s regional network, which closely aligns with TBG’s proposition, their sector experience and insights were a real draw for us.
“This investment and LDC’s value-add support will enable us to expand and develop as a business and a set, giving greater access to the profession for those less inclined towards the older chambers model.”
Christina Blacklaws, a non-executive director of TBG and former Law Society president, said: “Many may ask why LDC has chosen to invest in TBG. This isn’t only an investment in a barristers’ chambers.
“It’s an investment in legal technology, an investment in opening up the profession to a wider pool of talent and an investment in access to justice whereby instructing solicitors and members of the public can access counsel quickly and efficiently.
“It’s also an investment in an alternative way of working at and with the Bar which allows greater choice for a profession whose wellbeing is a common cause of concern.”