The first independent financial adviser to set up a law firm from scratch has added an estate agency to work alongside its alternative business structure (ABS).
Leicester-based Bobby Dhanjal Legal Services (BDLS) has also brought its first trainee solicitor through to qualification, after she spent seven months as a business development manager to familiarise herself with local business needs.
Speaking to Legal Futures, wealth manager and founder Bobby Dhanjal said the estate agency, which like the ABS operates under the Bobby Dhanjal brand and was launched earlier this year, “complements the ABS’s conveyancing department”.
He added: “We are now trying to grow the conveyancing part of the legal business.”
Mr Dhanjal said he resisted the temptation to acquire an off-the-shelf estate agency. “We started it afresh. We didn’t do it through a franchise because we wanted our own branding so it would complement the other two businesses.”
He said the average case size handled by the wealth management division had continued to increase as a result of cross-selling with the ABS. Last year, we reported that the average value of cases had increased  from £1,200 to £1,800 as a result of the ABS’s launch.
“We’ve ended up doing a lot more trust business and corporate client care… generally we are now getting clients who are giving us both their legal and financial business. The two businesses are complementing each other, whereas at first it was just the financial advice business that benefited. Now the ABS is benefiting too.”
Sanjit Atkar, who started her training contract with BDLS in January 2014 and qualified last week, joins two other solicitors at the firm, as well as a chartered legal executive, a trainee solicitor, and two paralegals who are working as business development managers.
The firm has a policy of making all non-qualified staff work as business development managers before progressing in their legal careers, so as to better understand the needs of local businesses.
Mr Dhanjal said he was “very proud” to have taken “a non-solicitor through our training programme to qualification”. He added: “It’s not all about the money; that is the value of our business, to make sure individuals come through it and have a proper understanding of what we’re doing. For us it works really, really well.”
BDLS, whose tag line is “A clear voice in legal advice”, has“Leicester’s first ABS” sign-written on its city centre plate glass shopfront.