Clementi prompts first legal brokerage

Former chief executive of 7 Bedford Row Stephen ;Allen ;has
launched ;the first broker for the legal profession as a direct consequence of the Legal Services Act.

Clarity ;Connections, which launches today (12 May), aims to provide a formal network for small to medium-sized law firms. Solicitors can pass work to another firm, which will pay a referral fee, under a ‘no poach agreement’.

Allen, Clarity Connections director, said a referral network will help high street firms compete with their larger counterparts.

“It’s important that smaller law firms don’t lose out on potential business just because they don’t have a system in place to refer and receive work,” he said. “They have an important role to play in the sector, as there’s always going to be demand from consumers who want a personalised service and a solicitor who holds a breadth of local knowledge.”

The launch of Clarity Connections has received a cautious welcome from Clementi innovators such as Russell Jones & Walker’s chief executive Neil Kinsella.

“A formalised referral network is a good idea and is really an extension of the informal networks that many law firms have set up themselves,” said Kinsella. “It remains to be seen, however, ;whether ;the referral fee model would be the right option.”

The referral fee model has been criticised for lack of transparency and for driving up legal costs. Experts, however, anticipate that brokers ;will ;become common as law firms bid to compete with non-legal businesses for work.