Four leading Manchester personal injury firms have joined forces to build a seven-figure war chest that will buy out practices wanting to exit the sector.
Pi Gateway has been launched by Bott & Co, Ralli, Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Express Solicitors, and claims already to have nine transactions under consideration.
It is the latest in a wave of initiatives aimed at firms leaving PI, although last week another Manchester solicitor advised sellers to spend more time considering whether they would be better off running down their caseloads.
In a statement, the firms said Pi Gateway is “lawyers helping lawyers”, with participants “understanding the process and quite often the pain” of operating in the sector.
The firms use their “collective experience and expertise to identify the best law firm partners to take on the existing business’s caseload and assist in leaving the market in an SRA-compliant, well-managed and dignified manner”.
It said the partners of Pi Gateway have robust reporting methods and statements, including speedy vetting procedures to ensure they are both financial stable and capable of seeing acquired claims through to a satisfactory conclusion, ensuring the client’s needs are paramount.
All four firms have SRA confirmation that they are not on the regulators financial “at risk” radar. They will also co-opt other firms onto the panel where required.
Bott & Co senior partner David Bott, former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said: “During 2013, the PI sector has gone through an unprecedented period of unrest with many lawyers in this area of law thinking of exiting the market. We know from experience that what most of them want is a quick and clean exit with dignity and maximum cash returns. This is what we offer.”
Hilary Meredith added: “We hope that exiting firms or those suffering financial hardship won’t bury their heads in the sand and will pick up the phone and talk to us first maybe avoiding intervention by banks, accountants, liquidators or the SRA.
“As a first point of contact we may be able to avoid firms selling off cheaply at an under value, and instead see optimum returns from their active files, whether they are simply leaving the market due to retirement or trying to avoid insolvency.”
Last week Lesley Graves, managing director of PI consulting law firm Citadel Law, argued that “in most situations, a measured trade-out of PI will make a law firm more money; keeping the maximum return on investment in-house is better than selling if you can”.