A multi-disciplinary practice launched a year ago to combine legal, finance and conflict resolution advice has reverted to just legal services after the founders found their styles “incompatible”.
But the solicitor at its heart, Akbar Ali, told Legal Futures he was “keeping an open mind” on bringing back non-legal services.
Mr Ali, managing director of what is now Ali Legal, said clients liked the idea of a single, trusted adviser who could recommend other professional services to them within the same firm.
“If you’re commercially savvy and want to solve your clients’ problems, you make appropriate recommendations.
“It’s very good from a client’s point of view if you can make them from your own business, particularly if you can offer discounts and provide better value.”
Ali Professional Services Group (PSG), which launched in September 2021, was made up of Ali Corporate Law, Ali Corporate Finance and Ali Corporate Services.
Ali Corporate Law was now trading as Ali Legal, to reflect its broader range of legal services beyond commercial. The corporate finance and dispute resolution/HR consultancy elements have launched a separate company, Lexan Corporate Services.
He said that, “within a few months” of the launch of Ali PSG, it was clear that the founding partners – Mr Ali, accountant Adnan Sajid and Alexander Dunlop, a mediator and arbitrator – had styles which “were not compatible”. Mr Sajid and Mr Dunlop no longer had any involvement in Ali Legal.
Mr Ali went on: “It’s difficult as a start-up, and it’s particularly difficult when you’re setting up three different businesses.”
Mr Ali is the sole owner of Ali Legal, which employs three solicitors, one of them specialising in conveyancing, another in private client and another in employment law, along with a trainee and a paralegal.
He said most of the firm’s clients were SMEs, though some were quite large and it was not unusual deal with a £20m transaction.
Mr Ali said the top priority for his firm was organic growth, but it would consider buying another law firm next year. A further option would be using consultant lawyers or partnering with other law firms to deliver cross-border advice.
The solicitor, who previously worked in-house for a Swiss company, said that at times he acted as “outsourced legal counsel” who had to handle “anything and everything legal” that came to him.
Mr Ali said he was “keeping an open mind” on acquiring non-legal businesses in the long term, while focusing on organic growth of Ali Legal as a commercial law firm for the rest of this year.
Next year he would consider acquiring another law firm, in particular one providing services outside commercial law, like conveyancing, which could be financed by private equity.
He said there were going to be “winners and losers” from the current economic uncertainty, but in either case there would “always be a legal input”.