Fast-growing accountancy consolidator launches law firm

Kearns: Joined-up professional advice can be hard to access

A private equity-backed accountancy firm that has built a £130m practice in just 16 months has now launched a law firm too.

Sumer Law is headed by corporate/commercial solicitor James Kearns, who told Legal Futures that the plan was to grow to 25-30 people in the first year.

It is not currently an alternative business structure (ABS), as the work it is doing is not reserved, but Mr Kearns said the intention was to apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a licence and expand the areas of work the firm offers.

Sumer is the brainchild of Warren Mead, previously chief operating officer of KPMG’s non-audit business and a member of the firm’s main executive committee.

Targeted at SMEs, the ‘challenger’ firm’s strategy is to form regional hubs throughout the UK, with the hub partners maintaining leadership of their practices and retaining significant equity. It says this shared ownership model means the firms preserve their local identity while benefiting from the scale and resources of a national group.

Sumer completed its first co-investment in February 2023 and done more than 14 transactions since. Backed by Penta Capital and BlackRock, it is already a top 15 practice, producing revenue of £130m, with over 40 offices and 1,000 staff. It intends to keep growing rapidly.

Mr Kearns said “joined-up and SME-focused professional advice can be hard to access. That’s why we feel that Sumer Law working within, and complementing the services of, the broader Sumer group, is such a winning proposition”.

He has joined from Dragon Argent, an ABS that combines business advisory, legal, tax and accountancy services, where he headed the legal function.

His experience was that “certain things can fall through the cracks” where lawyers tell clients that they need to go and seek advice from their accountants, and vice versa.

“What clients appreciate is having their professionals under that same roof and they can speak to them at the same time rather than being the messenger,” he explained.

“The feedback I’ve had over the years is that it’s just refreshing that they’re not being passed from pillar to post.”

He is joined by employment law solicitor Rhiannon Davies and intends to expand Sumer Law to cover private client and commercial property work as the areas “most adjacent” to accountancy.

Mr Mead said: “We’ve identified that many of our clients would prefer to go to a one-stop shop for business services. We’re now able to offer this through Sumer Law, providing instant access to joined-up legal and financial guidance, regardless of location.”

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