Thursday 20 December 2012 by John Hyde
Two of the highest-profile flagbearers for new models of legal service ownership have won approval as alternative business structures.
Knights Solicitors, owned by James Caan's private equity vehicle Hamilton Bradshaw, and stock exchange-listed personal injury company Quindell Portfolio were both confirmed as ABSs by the Solicitors Regulation Authority this week.
Knights is the first UK commercial law firm to raise private capital and Quindell the first AIM stock exchange-listed company to move into legal services.
ABS approval for Knights means that former Dragons Den investor Caan (pictured) will join the firm's board.
The Staffordshire-based firm, with three offices, said when it was acquired in June that it had ambitions to become one of the top 100 in the UK. Managing partner David Beech said the firm aims to double turnover in the next three years and announce a number of new hires in the new year.
He said the granting of ABS status 'demonstrates Knights' continued determination to be at the forefront of change in the legal sector and positions us well to take advantage of the changing legal landscape.'
For Quindell, the news comes at the end of a year in which it bought three PI firms, Pinto Potts, Silverbeck Rymer and The Compensation Lawyers, as well as the parent company of claims management firm Accident Advice Helpline.
The rapid emergence of an entity coming from outside the traditional law firms was endorsed by SRA's chief executive Antony Townsend.
He said: 'ABS applicants have proved to be highly innovative and forward thinking, whether they are existing legal bodies looking to grow successful business models, proposing to grow by acquisition or creating joint ventures, or entirely new entrants to the legal services market wanting to take market share in areas of law traditionally serviced purely by all-lawyer firms.
'This application is yet another example of that innovative thinking.'
One other firm, 11-partner Norfolk practice Hayes & Storr, also received its ABS licence this week as the number of SRA-approved applications edges towards 50.