New firm looks to create consumer brand after Shoosmiths deal

Verrill: Significant milestone 

A law firm connected to a leading financial services claims business has used backing from a litigation funder to acquire Shoosmiths’ private client practice as it plots major growth.

This includes creating a “nationally recognised consumer brand”.

Supported by Harbour Litigation Funding, Rothley Law has taken on a 41-strong team – led by partners Melissa Maple, Adam Draper and Lucy Taylor – which will operate from offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Reading.

It handles wealth protection, disputed wills and trusts, and Court of Protection work. The transfer follows a strategic review by Shoosmiths last year that led to the national firm withdrawing from private client and family services.

Leicester-headquartered Rothley Law is part of the Rothley Group, whose main member up to now has been claims management company Money Redress.

The law firm was set up in 2022 but only opened its doors with the Shoosmiths team moving over.

It was licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as an alternative business structure at the start of 2023. Its head of legal practice is solicitor Caroline Wright – the only member of staff before the deal – and head of finance and administration is Rizwan Ladak, who is Money Redress’s finance director.

In a statement, Rothley said it planned to build its consumer law offering by opening offices in Bristol and Leeds later this year, and through further acquisitions of firms, business units or teams.

Its chair, John Verrill, a former Norton Rose Fulbright partner, added: “This is a significant milestone in the development of Rothley Law as we seek to build a nationally recognised consumer brand.

“The Shoosmiths team is extremely well-regarded amongst clients and through its collaborative work with other advisers, and we are looking forward to working with the team in innovative ways to grow and develop the firm.

“Part of that growth will come through lateral hires, but as an independent firm and with Harbour’s backing, we have the flexibility and appetite for further acquisitions, with a number of potential opportunities clearly in our sights.”

Shoosmiths chair Peter Duff said: “They are a first-class team and we fully expect to maintain close relationships on both a personal level and also for the benefit of our mutual clients. We wish the team and Rothley Law every success in the future.”

Harbour said it was looking to broaden its investment activity to include funding the growth of law firms.

Ellora MacPherson, managing director and chief investment officer, said: “Unlike many traditional lenders, our capital can be used for multiple purposes – in this case, for an acquisition.

“This quarter we have finalised commitments for a number of other similar investments, with others in the pipeline.

The Rothley group’s last filed accounts, for 2021, showed a Covid-impacted year, with turnover down 32% to £4.8m. But it turned a loss in 2020 to a profit before tax of £1.8m.

As well as the 42 staff now working at Rothley Law, the group said it employed a further 23 on the claims side.

Meanwhile, employee-owned law firm Talbots Law has increased its presence in the Midlands by buying Dudley-based Wright Solicitors.

Directors Stan Williets, Julia Allely and Pardeep Jassal will be staying on as part of the deal, alongside the other 22 members of staff, who will all be moving to Talbots’ offices in the town.

Talbots chief executive Dave Hodgetts said: “Wright Solicitors is generating over £1m of fees annually and we believe that we can grow this considerably by allowing existing clients to tap into some of the additional legal services we already offer, as well as targeting new clients in Dudley.”

Mr Williets said: “We wanted to protect the values that the business was established on and moving into the Talbots family does that perfectly.”

It is Talbots’ second acquisition in three months after bringing in Coventry firm Sarginsons Law in May. Talbots’ fee income hit £22m last year and it has increased its staff numbers to 400 since changing its ownership structure in late 2021 and starting a growth drive.

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