Wills group looks to buy “a dozen law firms a year” after PE boost


The Right Legal Group, a wills and probate specialist, has secured private equity funding to buy at least “a dozen law firms a year”, it has emerged.

Mike Simpson, director of innovation at the alternative business structure, said the group approached funders having seen “an opportunity to acquire law firms”, particularly small firms looking to exit the market.

The ABS approached funders 12 months ago, and a met a variety of them, but Vespa Capital stood out as “the best match for us and for our ambitions”.

He said the group wanted to “maintain control” and needed a funder prepared take a minority stake, which Vespa has done.

Right Legal was founded by Mr Simpson, chief executive and COFA Carrie Caladine and entrepreneur Keith Dearling. Solicitor Sianead O’Connor is director of legal services and Danielle Wilkes, also a solicitor, is the COLP.

Ms Wilkes also heads the group’s Training Academy, which has trained more than 150 adviser, since its launch in 2019 and recently unveiled a new diploma in wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney in collaboration with the Institute of Paralegals.

As part of the partnership with Vespa, Derek Mapp, an experienced CEO and chair of technology-enabled service businesses, is joining the board as chairman.

Mr Simpson said the Right Legal Group had expanded from a dozen staff when it was launched in Derby in 2014 to 170 staff today. Simpson Solicitors, a trading name of the group, has nine offices across the country, including Cardiff, Bristol, Brighton and the firm’s HQ in Derby.

A Manchester office will be opening in the next few months followed by Southampton later in 2024. “We want to bring people on board and extend our branch coverage,” he said. He expected staff numbers to top 200 by the end of the year.

Right Legal has acquired 15 law firms over the last nine years, including some out of administration.

“There are a lot of lawyers out there who are unable to exit the market because of run-off cover or other things. They often have a lot of goodwill,” Mr Simpson explained. “This funding means we can reach out to more firms across the country. We can help them exit.”

Right Legal’s RightWill platform aims preserve the financial assets and emotional wishes of clients for future generations. The group works with five external law firms who use the platform as Rightwill partner practices.

Ms Caladine said Vespa had a “strong track record in helping companies such as ours reach their growth potential and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable as we commence the next part of our journey”.

Luke Burton, investment director at Vespa Capital, commented: “Carrie, Mike, and the broader team at Right Legal have built a quality-leading, innovative, and differentiated leader in the will writing and probate sector.

“From our first interaction we were continually impressed by Right Legal’s expertise and high standards, their professionalism, and their drive to disrupt and innovate for the benefit of their customers.”

Vespa says that it targets tech-enabled services, software, life sciences and healthcare, and sustainability businesses in the UK lower mid-market, and generally invests £10m-plus.

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