LawVest unveils fixed-price law firm combining solicitors and barristers


Chapman: we started with a blank piece of paper

A groundbreaking business law firm operating entirely on fixed fees and featuring a mix of leading barristers and solicitors opens today, aiming for a market that it claims has been “protected from real competition for too long”.

Riverview Law is the brainchild of LawVest, which as first revealed on Legal Futures last autumn has investment from global law firm DLA Piper. LawVest is to apply to become an alternative business structure (ABS).

Operating through Riverview Solicitors and Riverview Chambers, it offers businesses with up to 1,000 employees annual contracts from as little as £200 a month for all their day-to-day legal support, or receive a fixed price for a particular piece of work. The annual contracts provide unlimited access to legal advice. Advice is mainly provided remotely, backed up by sophisticated IT.

Large organisations can outsource their in-house legal function to Riverview Law, also at a fixed price.

Riverview is an option for DLA clients who are no longer core to the global firm’s plans, but LawVest chief executive Karl Chapman emphasised that Riverview will receive “no preferential treatment” and DLA lawyers will be under no obligation to refer work. “The business will stand and fall on the quality, standards, service and prices we provide,” he said.

It is

possible the two could pitch together – Mr Chapman said he envisages working with other firms too – but equally they could be competing. “We will see lots of examples of businesses competing as well as collaborating,” he predicted.

Mr Chapman said the Riverview model has been built from the customer up – by asking what clients want from legal services – rather than the law firm partner down, and seeks to change the way organisations buy and use legal services. The service scope is extensive, including cover for litigation up to the launch of proceedings. Riverview will then agree a further fixed fee. Most staff are based in the Wirral.

Riverview Chambers has gathered together some of the leading barristers in the UK, including 12 silks such as Richard Lissack QC, Jonathan Caplan QC and Stephen Tromans QC. In all there are 43 members of chambers, and three associate members. They retain their existing chambers’ memberships as well.

Riverview Solicitors is headed by Andrew Reeves, and is “recruiting heavily”, according to Mr Chapman.

He said: “With Riverview Law we’re applying common sense business principles to a market that has been protected from real competition for too long. We have many advantages law firms don’t have; we started with a blank piece of paper, we spent time talking to businesses about what they want, and then we designed an operating and customer service model that delivers it – top customer support people, lawyers and legal assistants, combined with end-to-end technology and low overheads.

“Other law firms have already said to us that it won’t work because it is impossible to deliver comprehensive fixed pricing. Our response is simple: ‘Maybe you can’t deliver fixed pricing, but we can.’”

Mr Chapman said LawVest would become an ABS because it may want to grow quickly by acquisition; Riverview Solicitors is also likely to become a formal part of LawVest if an ABS licence is granted.

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