Mishcon enters alternative legal services market with Flex acquisition

Bonsor: Autonomy crucial

London law firm Mishcon de Reya (MDR) has moved into the alternative legal services market by acquiring legal resourcing business Flex Legal.

Flex began life in 2016 providing paralegals to law firms and in-house teams on an interim basis before expanding to include qualified lawyers as well.

It now has a pool of over 6,000 pre-vetted lawyers, trainees, apprentices and paralegals it connects to businesses needing temporary support, whether on a short- or longer-term basis, through a proprietary online platform.

Flex will not become a captive flexible resourcing business like various City law firms have; it will continue to operate and be managed autonomously and the two businesses’ systems will remain separate.

Asked whether she was nonetheless concerned about the reaction of other law firm clients, founder Mary Bonsor told Legal Futures that she was not – Flex and MDR were “very conscious” of the need for autonomy, which was “a key part of the arm’s length relationship”.

Flex Trainee, its scheme to help trainee solicitors and apprentices take full advantage of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam and complete their training with in-house legal departments, will continue too. This is aimed at improving diversity and social mobility.

Ms Bonsor explained that benefits for Flex were business experience, with MDR strategy officer Nick West and Neville Eisenberg – an advisor to MDR and former managing and senior partner of what was Berwin Leighton Paisner – joining its board.

Further, Flex lawyers would have access to the Mishcon Academy, a learning and training resource that she described as a “treasure trove”.

The acquisition also opened up potential new clients, particularly SME companies through Taylor Vinters, the Cambridge-based law firm MDR with which joined forces in 2021. As of this month, Taylor Vinters is formally part of the MDR group.

Ms Bonsor, who was a property litigator at Winckworth Sherwood before setting up Flex, said they had not been looking to sell Flex but, after MDR approached them, she was “excited by their entrepreneurial nature and 10-year vision”.

An MDR statement described the deal as “another major step in executing its ambitious 10-year growth vision and strategy to build a world class consultancy with law at its heart”. It has seven complementary consultancies in the group at the moment.

Executive chairman Kevin Gold said: “The alternative legal services market is a high growth part of the legal ecosystem. Investing in it and creating a broader range of legal and business services to clients has been a key part of our 10-year vision.

“Flex Legal is a young dynamic business with a motivated and inspirational management team. We have been impressed by the quality of the business that Mary and the team have built and I am looking forward to supporting a successful collaboration between the law firm and Flex.”

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