Serial entrepreneur embraces unbundling with launch of ‘para-law firm’

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25 January 2017

A legal business which employs paralegals to handle straightforward work directly for clients while managing qualified lawyers on the advisory aspects of their case, has been launched by a serial legal services entrepreneur.

Rapoport: We’ve taken things to another dimension

Dr Yuri Rapoport has converted his legal brokerage into what he describes as the UK’s first “para-law firm”, working alongside several other legal businesses he has created.

Dr Rapoport, a Russian speaker born in Australia, said Legal Case Management (LCM) could not only co-ordinate a complex case, recruiting lawyers to work as consultants where necessary, but also rely on a team of employed paralegals to carry out the more straightforward tasks.

“We’ve taken things to another dimension,” Dr Rapoport said. “LCM was at first only involved in managing the relationship between client and lawyer. Its primary focus has always been on managing communication with clients.

“Now we have a stable of paralegals who can manage and perform work while maintaining relationships with lawyers. Consumers ultimately benefit from packaged services they don’t have to manage themselves.”

Dr Rapoport said LCM – which is marketed primarily through introducers such as family offices, accountants and independent financial advisers – had evolved because of client demand. “We know what our clients need. The key word is optimisation. It’s a matter of unbundling the case for the consumer so they get the best service.”

He said cases needing additional paralegal support could be referred to P[X]Paralegal, a specialist legal process outsourcer he launched last summer and part of the Kohen Rapoport Group.

The lawyers – both solicitors and direct access barristers – came from the panel managed by another group business, Catalist, which delivers instructions through either LCM or Legal Cost Finance, which provides payment plans for legal matters.

Dr Rapoport said LCM delivered work to solicitors they would otherwise not receive, because clients could be put off either by the complexity of the case or the high fees they faced: “It’s not about bypassing lawyers and taking work away from them. It’s better for the lawyers to be get additional work from us, which they would otherwise miss out on.”

LCM is currently handling 42 cases, shared among its 15 paralegals. He said that since it was set up in 2013, LCM had worked with over 200 solicitors. Work performed by paralegals could represent up to 90% of the total workload in an average case.

When it comes to privilege, LCM says that where it acts as the client’s agent in communications with the acting lawyer, it is covered by the lawyer’s privilege.

Dr Rapoport said LCF was the fastest growing part of the group. “Consumers have realised that here is a payment plan solution for legal advice that was not available before. Often it is very difficult for them to get litigation funding.”

He said LCF had procured over £15m in financing and was the “driving force” behind the growth in his group’s revenue, which had tripled in 12 months.

He added that the group had set up a specialist website for Russian speakers, Yurist, which means ‘lawyer’ in Russian. He said Russian clients made up around 20% of LCM’s total. Another company in the group, Vertex Legal, acted as a LPO for the corporate sector, rather than the private client market.

Dr Rapoport concluded: “Our complete service is shaping the future of the legal industry and we are proud to champion that change and be recognised as pioneers. We encourage other para-law firms to be established, so more clients can save money and enjoy access to justice.”

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