LOD launches unregulated firm for in-house advice

Harper: Positive feedback from clients

Flexible lawyering business LOD has launched an unregulated law firm, staffed entirely by former in-house solicitors, to help companies with “everyday in-house work”.

Simon Harper, co-founder of LOD, told Legal Futures that the move was a response to the new rules introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in November last year, allowing solicitors to practise from unregulated firms.

He said he had discussed LOD Legal with the SRA after the introduction of its Standards & Regulations (STaRs) in November. This was followed by a pilot scheme in the UK with 10-15 former in-house lawyers, before the official launch of LOD Legal this week.

“It has always been part of the LOD model to look at different and better ways of working for lawyers and how we could provide a more streamlined service,” Mr Harper said.

“It felt like the right structure and we had positive feedback from clients. In a sense it’s a natural transition for us.”

LOD, set up in 2007, is best known for short-term secondments of lawyers to in-house teams and other law firms; it has a pool of more than 800 around the world.

It also has separate divisions delivering long-term arrangements through managed services and guidance on long-term legal strategy through LOD Innovation & Design.

LOD Legal adds access to immediate law firm support to the mix.

Mr Harper said that since LOD Legal was not looking for the kind of big-ticket litigation work or multi-jurisdiction M&As handled by the large City firms, there was no need for the firm itself to be regulated.

LOD Legal has operated as a regulated law firm in Australia since 2017, where it offers the full range of legal services. Under the STaRs, solicitors in England and Wales are regulated individually by the SRA. LOD Legal has more than 30 lawyers at the moment and is recruiting.

The focus in the UK is on commercial law advice to in-house teams in the technology, pharmaceutical, professional services, retail and fintech sectors. The firm said advice on employment law will follow shortly.

Mr Harper said the aim was for clients and lawyers to work together as colleagues, as advice from traditional law firms to in-house lawyers was “not always in a form they could deliver” to their businesses.

“The larger firms are built for bigger-ticket advice. They often provide more junior staff, while our lawyers tend to have been in senior in-house roles and know more about what the end user looks like.”

Mr Harper said LOD Legal’s pricing menu included fixed fees wherever possible and took account of client feedback.

“In the end we are driven by our clients and what they ask for. We will change the pace of our expansion depending on client need.”

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