The reshaping of the personal injury market ahead of the Jackson reforms continued apace today as leading Manchester firm Antony Hodari acquired a direct marketing capability by buying well-known brand Paul Rooney Partnership.
The move is the latest stage in Antony Hodari’s strategic preparations for the Jackson reforms as it has hitherto taken a mainly business-to-business approach, concentrating on work from intermediaries.
Paul Rooney is based in central Liverpool and carries out extensive radio advertising. It will retain its name and it is expected that all 50 staff will continue in their roles. Founder Paul Rooney will continue to be involved in the business as a consultant, providing his expertise on direct marketing.
The deal also represents a significant expansion for Antony Hodari, which has 105 staff.
Chief executive officer Mark Grover said: “Paul Rooney Partnership is a fantastically well-known brand, particularly in the north-west, and this acquisition allows us to diversify and obtain work directly. Our strategy is predicated on growth, as you need scale to drive down the cost base, and we will be looking to grow the direct side of the business quickly. Size will be vital in the post-Jackson world of squeezed margins for claimant lawyers.”
He said the net effect of the reforms will be to squeeze the margins of claimant lawyers. “This means that firms need to drive efficiencies throughout their practices, and for that you need scale and a commitment to invest in technology. Clearly relationships based on referral fees will need to be rethought, but this will not be insurmountable – the important thing is that injured people can still find lawyers with the ability and capacity to take on their cases.”
Mr Rooney said: “I am confident that the combination of our brand with Antony Hodari’s systems and skills will make for a powerful player in the personal injury market. It will become harder for injured people to bring claims from next year and they will need firms with the resources of an Antony Hodari to take on their cases and fight for their rights.”
Antony Hodari has been through a modernisation programme which has seen staff numbers cut by a third over the past four years, while turnover has more than doubled, to £15m. Mr Grover said: “While next year’s reforms will make life more difficult for claimant lawyers, there will be opportunities for firms that are efficient, well run, and technology enabled. We believe that we are now in a position to take advantage of the reforms.”
Manchester law firm Turner Parkinson advised Antony Hodari, while Baker Tilly was lead adviser to Paul Rooney Partnership.