One-time network Connect2Law (C2L) has been reborn as an alternative business structure that has acquired leading referral business Contact Law, Legal Futures can reveal.
It is part of a strategy to establish C2L as “the UK’s leading provider of branded consumer legal services on behalf of corporates, retailers and affinity groups who are entering the legal services market”.
C2L was originally a hub-and-spoke referral network created by Pannone, but when Slater & Gordon took over the Manchester law firm, a deal was struck  to allow then head of C2L David Jabbari to take the brand with him and develop a new network of independent law firms.
He then joined Parabis to lead its consumer law business, with C2L working alongside the firm . But in the wake of Parabis’s collapse, he has decided to reposition C2L and set it up as a law firm.
He has recruited seven lawyers to date, but in the event of complex cases, he still has a network of seven leading regional firms to which C2L can refer work.
Its first large contract has been signed with Retirement HomeSearch, which is part of FirstPort, the UK’s leading residential property management group. C2L is the exclusive provider of conveyancing and estate management services to the company and its customers, and created a legal brand for it, RHS Legal Services .
Mr Jabbari, a solicitor, said that the firms competing with C2L for affinity work “are more focused on B2C and their own brands. A different mentality is needed for this work. You have to maintain an institutional client relationship”.
Explaining why he bought Contact Law from Thomson Reuters, Mr Jabbari said: “What sets Connect2Law apart is the combination of highly efficient delivery of legal services with a unique capability to sell and market legal services drawn from our Contact Law acquisition.
“This means that we can help our corporate clients generate high levels of demand for their legal services not just wait for customers to beat a path to their door.”
The Contact Law brand will be retained and a new app to enable law firms to better co-ordinate and convert sales leads into firm business is being released next month.
Dan Watkins, managing director of Contact Law, said: “Contact Law will continue to invest in servicing and growing our substantial subscriber base of law firms with a host of new lead generation initiatives this year. This will include opportunities stemming from the new partnerships Connect2Law is initiating with UK brands and membership organisations.”
Focusing predominantly on conveyancing and probate work, C2L is licensed as an ABS by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Mr Jabbari said that was a “conscious choice” following many years of dealing with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. He said he had found the council to be “a specialist and intelligent regulator”, and less bureaucratic.
Nick Freeth, managing director of Retirement HomeSearch, added: “We chose Connect2Law because they provide us with far greater levels of support than a fragmented panel of solicitors’ firms. It feels like they are part of our operation. They also have a sophisticated sales operation and data analysis tools that help us increase the ratio of legal instructions to enquiries.”
Mr Jabbari’s original vision was of C2L as the brand behind law firms, providing them with back and middle office support. He said this was still part of the plan, but that for the time being he would be concentrating on building up the legal business.