A niche medical law firm has become an alternative business structure with the ambition of becoming a one-stop shop for healthcare providers.
Guildford-based DR Solicitors, which was created under a brand designed to appeal to its primary care doctor, dentist and consultant clients, received its ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority this month.
The firm advises GP and dentist partnerships, GP commissioning consortia, and others on such things as partnership disputes, employment contracts, and NHS regulations.
Co-founder, principal and managing director, Daphne Robertson, a partnership specialist who trained at magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said the ABS would allow the firm, which employs six solicitors, “to provide a broader set of services to our established primary care clients”.
Chief executive Nils Christiansen described DR Solicitors as “brand driven”. He would not be drawn on the exact nature of the services the firm would offer but hinted that “bringing the different professions together” might be part of the plan, and said “providing a one-stop shop for healthcare is absolutely where we’re at”.
He continued: “To be honest we’ve been waiting for this for years. We set the business up 10 years ago specifically with this kind of thing in mind.” The firm serves only medical professionals and turns down or refers any other sort of work, he said.
Mr Christiansen, a co-founder of the firm who is an accountant and a former partner at Price Waterhouse, added that the “ABS enables us to have a broader ownership and management” and that “the very first person that goes on that list” would be himself. Asked whether doctors would become managers in the firm, he said: “Not in the short term, no.”
He said that using his past experience, he had helped build the firm as a ‘virtual’ practice. “We are all hosted, everything is outsourced, all of our processes are highly automated,” he said. Unlike other virtual firms that encouraged members to bring work with them, DR Solicitors brought in work centrally “under the brand” and distributed it to highly specialised expert solicitors located around the country, giving it a national reach.
He predicted that the future direction of the ABS would be dictated by clients as well as by the firm itself: “What I expect is going to happen is that… once we are an ABS, yes we can develop services ourselves, but at the same time others in the sector can come to us and say ‘well, actually you are now in a position to do some interesting things that you weren’t able to do before’.”
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has now granted 183 ABS licences.