Law firm enters the Dragon’s den with Caan investment

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By Legal Futures

13 June 2012

James Caan (left) with David Beech

Staffordshire law firm Knights has struck a deal to accept investment from the private equity company owned by former Dragon’s Den star James Caan in a bid to attract work away from the City.

Hamilton Bradshaw’s (HB) investment is aimed at propelling the 23-partner commercial practice into the top 100 firms within three years – it was not in the list of the top 200 published by The Lawyer last year. Once approval is received from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Mr Caan will join Knights’ board.

Knights has 150 staff across its headquarters in Newcastle-under-Lyme and further offices in Cheltenham and Alderley Edge in Cheshire. Back in 1996 the firm decided to move away from the high street to specialise in commercial work and wealth management.

A statement from the pair said that “in response to a much more price-conscious market, the business’s core focus is to be a credible cost solution to London institutions by providing competitive priced commercial services from its regional centres, in addition to the full service offering Knights provides to its existing corporate client base”.

Knights already has experience of this as one of the firms involved in the ‘Mexican Wave’ service offered by Hogan Lovells, under which the City firm outsources lower-level property work to a small group of regional practices.

Knights managing partner David Beech – who once held the same role at Heatons – only joined last October after four years as a funding manager at London private equity business Arev. He said he met with several investors about funding the firm’s expansion: “What stood out about HB was the fact that they don’t just bring capital, they also bring an incredibly talented team on board who will support our business to achieve its ambition to become a leading regional law firm and cost solution to London.”

Hamilton Bradshaw has hitherto invested solely in recruitment businesses. Mr Caan said: “This is a very exciting business for HB to invest in. David has an excellent track record in law firm management as well as a unique understanding of private equity, having managed a fund himself. HB backs talented management and I am confident David will execute his strategy for growth.”

He added: “The legal sector is undergoing significant change and consolidation. Knights is an excellent firm which has proven management and financial backing to scale its business and position itself in the top 100 UK law firms. I am very focused on people-based businesses and Knights stood out as a business with a highly talented team.

“It’s great to see a firm benefit from staff who have been with the company for over 20 years, it speaks volumes about the quality of the business that Knights have built. One of the things that also impressed me about Knights is the fact that some of their clients have been with the firm for generations; that is testament to a business who understands the importance of exceptional customer service.”


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