Niche advice law firm expands into litigation funding agreements

Baldwin: Growth boosted by partnerships

A law firm which specialises in providing independent legal advice where needed in property, banking and finance transactions has expanded to litigation funding agreements.

Luke Baldwin, co-founder and chief finance office of Poole-based iLA, said clients included both individuals with matrimonial litigation funding agreements and SMEs needing the funding to challenge commissions on energy contracts.

The firm is unusual in various ways, not least in being dedicated to providing independent legal advice. It is open 8am-8pm seven days a week – in recognition that the demand for its advice often comes urgently at the end of a transaction – and offers a gold, silver and bronze price and service level.

It also has Trustpilot reviews from other solicitors, who refer clients to iLA when they need independent legal advice.

Mr Baldwin said most of the firm’s clients were either property developers needing finance or a bridging loan, or individuals, such as parents, helping their children buy a home by becoming a joint borrower but not an owner.

When the law firm was launched in early 2022, it dealt with 13 clients in its first month. It was now dealing with 600-700 – getting indemnity insurance had initially been difficult because insurers “did not understand the concept” of what they were trying to do.

He qualified as a solicitor in the Bournemouth office of Ellis Jones, acting for SMEs against high street banks or specialist lenders in financial product mis-selling claims.

Looking for “a change of direction” and wanting to get commercial experience, he left and worked as a finance broker, setting up Niche Specialist Finance, based in Bournemouth, with Anastasia Ttofis, also a solicitor, in 2018.

They specialised in providing bridging and other finance for developers, such as for a £6.5m block of flats in Sandbanks during Covid.

They set up iLA in March 2022 and wound down their brokerage business. It has 13 staff, including six lawyers. Ms Ttofis is the chief executive.

One reason the law firm has expanded so rapidly was because of partnerships with lenders, brokers and solicitors – among them is a partnership, launched earlier this year with Keystone Property Finance, a specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender.

There was also a partnership with Manchester-based JMW Solicitors, in which iLA helped provide the firm’s clients with independent advice.

Other partnerships are with the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers and Property Hub.

Mr Baldwin said the firm’s litigation funding work included matrimonial cases, where anything from £25,000 to £750,000 in finance was needed. Other work in this area was acting for individuals challenging car finance agreements, or for SMEs challenging undisclosed commissions on energy contracts.

He said the firm worked for international clients, for example those wishing to buy property in the UK, and one of its consultants was based in Dubai.

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