Exclusive: top consumer law firm targets tie-up with big brands after receiving ABS licence

Savill: talking to a number of different organisations

One of the country’s largest consumer law firms has become the latest alternative business structure (ABS) as it targets working with “well-known brands” to offer a range of legal services.

Lyons Davidson said its licence is an “important step in the work it is doing with insurers to prepare for the implementation of the Jackson reforms and to secure its ambition to transform the way that legal services are delivered to consumers”.

Lyons Davidson is a 48-partner firm with 1,200 staff headquartered in Bristol and with six other offices around the country and an associated firm in Scotland. A full-service practice, it is best known for its claimant and defendant personal injury work for insurers.

Managing director Mark Savill said: “We are talking to a number of different organisations about how they should respond to the changes that will be introduced next year. Our ABS licence is an important element that allows us to deliver some innovative solutions beyond helping them to build stand-alone ABS companies.

“We are in the middle of some significant changes in the legal landscape and to maintain our position at the forefront of these changes our ABS strategy has to be much more about the opening up of the legal services sector as a whole.

“Our ABS strategy is looking not just at services for individuals injured in road accidents. Our emphasis is on working with well-known brands to enhance our personal legal services, securing access for customers and policyholders to a wide range of products where they can be confident about the price, delivery and service.”

He would not elaborate any further on the talks the firm is in, but indicated that Lyons Davidson would not be tying up with a single insurer. “We’ve always worked with a number of insurers and are hoping to continue to do that,” he told Legal Futures.

Group CEO Nick Delaney explained that Lyons Davidson forms part of a wider group that has developed a full outsource service to insurers. This includes claims-handling services for insurers and extends to group companies offering an FSA-registered FNOL (first notification of loss) service, a 24-hour legal advice line, rehabilitation service management, a national network of physiotherapists, and a workflow technology company.

“The ABS environment has been essential in the development of that strategy,” he said. “We have worked closely with our business partners in the insurance sector to identify areas where we can invest, develop and provide efficiencies through our service delivery processes.

“Combined with some strategic supply relationships, this has enabled us to build an integrated service that we are able to offer to insurers that goes far beyond a traditional legal service. ABS allows us to bring together the right people and, as we identify further opportunities, an ability to seek external capital if needed.”

Mr Savill said there were no immediate plans to access external investment, however. “We have succeeded in growth of over 20% year on year with more traditional funding options and so, while it gives us more flexibility, whether we look at external funding as an option would depend on the specific opportunities that we consider and the circumstances at the time.”



    Readers Comments

  • Never has branding looked so important for the modern law firm or ABS. Doubtless their legal marketing budget will triple to successfully expand their business and legal reach.

  • Particularly interesting that the wider group contains a workflow technology company. I have argued elsewhere that it is only a matter of time before a legal software company becomes an ABS. This isn’t quite it but it’s getting close.

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