Trust business launches ABS for own and other law firms’ work

Murton: Looking to do things differently

A company which specialises in trust work for organisations, individuals and law firms has launched an alternative business structure (ABS) to handle both its own work and instructions from other law firms.

Catherine Murton, director of Arcadia Legal, said the ABS wanted to “do things differently” while offering an outsourced service to law firms struggling to deliver their own private client advice.

Ms Murton joined the Arcadia Trust Group, based in Langport, Somerset, six years ago. The firm set up a dormant legal company, with the intention of launching an ABS.

The Arcadia Trust Group provides a white-labelled service to law firms that includes trust and inheritance tax accounts and drafting tax returns. It also provides trust and private client advice to companies as an employee benefit.

Ms Murton said many law firms were having a “really hard time” recruiting good-quality staff for their private client departments.

“A lot of firms have more work than they can cope with, while others do not want to do this kind of work anymore.

“If you’ve only got one private client solicitor, you’re quite vulnerable. Locums are incredibly expensive. Instead, they can pass work to us under a fee-sharing arrangement. We are not looking to steal their clients.”

Before requalifying as a solicitor, Ms Murton worked as a clerk to the Valuation Tribunal Service, which handles disputes over council tax banding or business rates.

Having done things “for such a long time” the way her employers wanted, Ms Murton said that, with the Arcadia group, she wanted to “do things differently, in a modern way geared to the client”.

She sees most of her clients in their own homes and works remotely with others, including those referred by Arcadia, who could be anywhere in the country because the group works with national trusts and charities.

Ms Murton, who is HOLP and HOFA of Arcadia Legal as well as a director, is joined by a part-time director, also a solicitor, and an assistant. She said that, if there was enough work, she would be recruiting another solicitor and an assistant later this year.

“Clients want to see that we’re regulated. There are an awful lot of unregulated providers out there. It gives people peace of mind to know they’re dealing with professionals.”

Ms Murton said Arcadia Legal did not want to move into related areas of private client work, such as contentious probate, and would refer clients to other law firms for that, just as it did for conveyancing or family work.

She said the ABS was “just starting out” and would keep to its niche of wills, powers of attorney, probate and estate administration, making use of the group’s IT system and accepting referrals from the group, and from law firms and from the many accountancy firms which did not do private client work.

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